Pardon the pun, but today and tomorrow’s Texas House votes present a watershed moment for all Texans. In an hour or two, House Bill 3298 (Gridzilla) will maraud the floor. Watch it online here. (We wrote you this about the bill).
Tomorrow (Friday), House Bill 2595, hits the House floor. HB 2595 will destroy the 110-year old rights of citizens to petition their city government for a vote of the people. (We wrote you this about it.)
If the business lobbies, hiding behind “conservatism” take our water and our very rights to have a check and balance on municipal government — the right to petition — there is no way out without some new tools for organizing we do not yet have.
So, dear friends, it really is up to you to put a stop to the monkey business.
Let’s say your city council unwisely decides to subsidize a shopping mall and you try to overturn it by petition. The mall developer can sue to stop your petition drive under House Bill 2595, now pending in the legislature, because it hurts the mall developers private property rights if you strip away the subsidies!
In fact, House Bill 2595 kills all petition drives if someone’s private property gain is affected. This foolish bill cuts both ways. It stops citizens from enacting their own legislation if their city government is unresponsive – as long as the city can trot out someone who claims “waaaah, I’m hurt!”
The problem is that every damned thing has that potential. This is just bad policy yet it was just unanimously passed the House Urban Affairs Committee. The bill is now in the House Calendars Committee and could go to the floor of the Texas House at any moment.
Tell them that you oppose HB 2595. If you live in Austin, please make sure to call Rep. Eddie Rodriguez. Let Eddie know that Austin City Attorney, John Steiner, spoke against this bill.
Then click on each member’s name and you’ll be taken to their website where you can see their district. See if you know folks who live in those districts. Reach them and ask them to call in their opposition to HB 2595.
We can also use your hard earned dollars to run a campaign
to stop this attack on citizens petition rights.
See the donate button on the right? ===>
MORE GORY DETAILS, IF YOU REALLY WANT TO KNOW: The only reason we can figure that HB 2595 was introduced is that it is — purely — a retribution bill by the oil and gas lobby. They are out to do great harm to the over 100 year legacy of citizens petition rights because they’re still upset about the Denton “frack ban” passed by Denton voters –who are, by the way, largely Republicans. Even despite the passage of HB 40 last week that may well undo Denton’s frack ban.
HB 2595 is a tricky little bill that says that no city can accept, certify or otherwise approve of any petition that, “would restrict the right of any person to use or access the person’s private property for economic gain.”
City of Austin Attorney, John Steiner (with whom we’ve been on opposite sides for years), to his credit, pointed out that because HB 2595 requires the city to stop petitions before a public vote, virtually guarantees that the city will be sued by someone — either the proponents or the opponents. Historically, and properly so, it is the courts that have dealt with these disputes if and when they happen after passage.
Two more examples of why HB 2595 is really bad for ALL citizens:
Your city council decides to use $100 million in tax dollars to support a sports stadium. Once you’ve spent enumerable hours and money getting your signatures, and then submit it to your city clerk’s office, your city council can keep it off the ballot if they believe that the property owner’s “right” to use his or her property for “economic gain” would be impeded. And, if they don’t keep it off the ballot, the property owner who feels harmed could sue the city!
Example 2: (the cake-taker)
Let’s say you want to reform eminent domain in your city to stop private entities (like a privatitized toll road vendor) from taking your property for their own economic gain. It’s a coin toss as to whose property rights trumps in this situation, eh?
Don’t let them get away with taking away our rights, as citizens, to petition and reign in our city government.
Y’all come on out to Bastrop this Saturday — regardless of party or persuasion — for the “Building the Rural-Urban Coalition for Local Control” meeting put on by the non-profit League of Independent Voters of Texas. Click here to view the agenda. Click here to reserve a seat. Besides….our own Brian Rodgers, is speaking on his alternative to the Chamber of Commerce’s model for economic development which stresses unbridled population growth with the costs passed on to you.
This event is appropriately being held in Bastrop, home of the Texas water wars, as an unholy alliance of the real estate lobby, water marketers and some leading state politicians now in session want to move large quantities of water underlying Lee and Bastrop counties to the I-35 growth corridor.
With the legislature now in session, it’s likely to be a bumpy ride with the rights to local control clearly in the cross-hairs. So show up or forever hold your peace!
PS Linda didn’t make the runoff for Texas House District 17, but ran a surprisingly strong race as an independent in 3 weeks, coming in third in a five-way race. She is currently locked in a battle with Bastrop County on alleged election misconduct to ensure a fair runoff…also a topic on Saturday that Fred Lewis will be speaking on. More here in today’s Statesman.
Do you know that early voting started today in a special election taking place to our east in House District 17 (Lee, Bastrop, Caldwell, Gonzales and Karnes counties)? Election day is Tuesday, January 6th.
Neither do the voters in HD 17. This is why our own Linda Curtis jumped into this race to run as an independent for the Texas House of Representatives. Linda says,
“This stunt was pulled to replace House Speaker Joe Straus’ water boy — Tim Kleinschmidt — with the Republican Party establishment’s choice to front for the real estate lobby. You all know by now that the intent of Republican insiders (and some key Democrats who are looking the other way) is to grab HD 17’s groundwater to fuel unfettered growth that is driving unaffordability in central Texas.”
Thanks to the antics of our outgoing Governor, who called an election with 3 weeks notice in the middle of the Christmas holidays, the door is open in a 5-way race (two Ds, two Rs and one independent) for Linda Curtis to make history being elected as an independent to the Texas House.
Can you envision Linda walking into the Capitol to take on the big corporate lobbies that are running roughshod over Texans of all persuasions?
You can help Linda by reaching folks who live in HD 17 and donating to her campaign.
PS So few people know that there is an election happening, Linda could win this with a few thousand votes. If that happens, maybe the next Governor won’t even consider pulling an election stunt like this.