Public spending for Christmas lights OK, Texas AG says

Staff Writer
Stephenville Empire-Tribune

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Turns out decking the halls in Texas likely won't cause problems for public officials.

State Attorney General Ken Paxton was asked about county leaders' ability to spend public money on holiday decorations.

In a non-binding opinion Monday, the Republican said state law allows commissioners courts to use county funding on holiday lights and decorations in public buildings.

He added that legal precedent has found such decorations to be "passive and not coercive," meaning a court would likely determine that displaying them didn't violate statute.

Holiday cheer has been a previous source of political and legal consternation in Texas.

In 2014, the Legislature approved a law protecting Christmas and other holiday celebrations in public schools from legal challenges. Then-Gov. Rick Perry gleefully signed it surrounded by men in Santa Claus costumes.