What to do: Call your State Representative and State Senator, find them here. Tell them you are an independent voter and you want them to stop any bills that erode your right to petition for a public vote. Currently, those bills are SB 221 and HB 4701. Both are supported by GOP big wig, Sen. Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston, pictured here), and HB 4701 was introduced by freshman State Representative Mano DeAyala (R-Houston) who serves on the House Elections Committee.
The problem we have with HB 4701 and SB 221
Election Reform or Deform
HB 4701 (Rep. DeAyala, R-West Houston) gives the Attorney General, currently Ken Paxton, unilateral power to kill a citizen measure he deems as "inconsistent with state law."
No Attorney General in the United States, that we have been able to glean, have such power!
The problem we have with SB 221 is this is the fourth time Sen. Bettencourt has introduced this bill and it's still not right. Its current version gives the Secretary of State, currently former State Senator Jane Nelson, the power to stop cities from using deceptive ballot language. Good. But what is not good is the SOS doesn't have to tell the cities what the ballot language problem is and can reject the language three times. Moreover, if there's a dispute there is no language in the bill to clarify the legal rights of the SOS and cities if they wind up in court.
Don't let these guys take us for a ride!
Special Note to Austin voters.
I had a dream last night. It was a nightmare. A gang was dismembering something I couldn't distinguish. This morning, I woke up facing that something. It was Texans' petition rights for a public vote, heretofore guaranteed by Texans' Constitutional Amendment for Home Rule passed in 1912. It's our only citizens' right to petition in Texas. We can petition for a public vote to amend our city charters. That includes our right to petition for a vote on petition rules for local referenda (to reverse a city council decision), to promote our own ordinances, and to recall city officials. Obviously, it is a powerful tool for citizens, so much so that some members of the City Council of Austin are scheming to make petitioning in Austin substantially more difficult. (See Austin Monitor article here.)
The last time the Legislature nearly succeeded to gut our petition rights was in the 2015 Legislative Session. The bill represented an unholy alliance between big-city Democrats and establishment Republicans. The Texas Municipal League and GOP establishment lawmakers tag-teamed petitioners with HB 2595. It passed the Texas House nearly unanimously before we figured out what they were doing to us.
LIV pulled together a left-right populist coalition of petitioners from the Tea Party to the Green Party, including major party activists from both parties. Together, we killed the bill in the Senate Committee, graveyard dead. We wrote about HB 2595 here.
Today, we petitioners are stuck in the
crossfire of partisan warfare between the two parties.
We could see 111 years of petition rights erased forever.
You can put a stop to this. Make your phone calls and share this message.
Note: LIV has a game plan unfolding for when this session ends on May 29th. We meet every Monday night to give shape to the plan. Visit our Events Page and join us.