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.
ACTION REQUEST: Click here and please call Calendars Committee NOW.
- 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.
We never would have passed 10-1 without it!