Party-line vote yet again, 19-12. Start this video at about 5 minutes in to see it happen—though if you blink, you might miss it, because those senators legislate fast. On to the Governor's Mansion it goes.
Greenfolk: Assuming that Governor Greg Abbott signs HB 2504 as expected, get yourselves ready to collect dollars or signatures when you run for office. If you take the petition route, your magic numbers are 500 for districted races and 5,000 for statewide (or 2% of the vote for that office in the last election if that is a lower number).
The Secretary of State's Office provides a table of the fees and petitioning requirements for parties that nominate candidates via primary elections. When HB 2504 becomes law, candidates from so-called convention parties—e.g., Greens and Libertarians—will still be required to pay the fee or submit the signatures by roughly the end of August, even though their parties will have ballot access guaranteed.
Ballot access geeks, here is a half-hour of major geekage from this past weekend: video of the discussion of HB 2504 during Sunday's meeting of the 86th Texas Senate, starting at 2:46:21.
Several Democratic senators rose to ask questions of Senate sponsor Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola). The questions seem posed to stall the bill's progress, mostly because they (perhaps rightly) suspect the Republicans of engaging in political chicanery. The Republican majority had mostly made up its collective mind on this bill beforehand. As it upsets the Libertarian Party, their putative competitors for right-of-center votes, the Republicans appeared ready to ram the bill through.
As of now, the Senate has not officially adopted the bill, but it did pass second reading on a party-line vote (19-12). This bodes well for final passage.
This time it was Socratic Gadfly who tweeted me with the news: The seven Republican senators on the Texas Senate's Committee on State Affairs approved HB 2504 yesterday.
The two Democrats had more important business on other committees or something, as they are listed as Absent on the report. One of them is part-time Democrat Eddie Lucio of Brownsville.
Ballot Access News reports that the committee heard testimony from only three witnesses:
Two Libertarians testified against the bill (because of the filing fee provision) and one Green testified in favor of the bill.
I'll try to find out which Green testified. It would be quite interesting if it were katija gruene, who like me has not been active with the Greens in recent years. kat, however, has testified against Rep. Drew Springer's similar bills in previous legislative sessions. The difference this time around would be the amendment tacked on last week, granting ballot access to parties that have received 2% of the vote in any statewide race in any of the last five state elections.
In these final days of the 86th Texas Legislature (phew, got it right that time!), Thursday the 16th is scheduled date for the review of HB 2504 in the Senate Committee on State Affairs. Attention on this bill has now gone beyond Texas: possible Green presidential candidate Howie Hawkins has been sending out pleas to sign this petition or call senators. The petition apparently sends a message to all 31 senators.
This morning I gave Sen. Borris Miles's Austin office a call and spoke to an otherwise well-informed staffer who told me he hadn't really seen the issue from the perspective that allowing more choices in elections improves turnout and enhances democracy. I doubt that it means Miles will vote for HB 2504 as amended, let alone be the lone Democrat in the Senate to do so, but a constituent can dream.
For those keeping score, the Texas Senate still comprises 19 Republicans and 12 Democrats. One of those Democrats, Eddie Lucio of Brownsville, has become notorious for voting with the Republicans on culture-war issues among others.
I have yet to find any new information on whether the Libertarian Party of Texas are considering launching a court challenge if the bill becomes law. As of last week's Chronicle piece, LPTX still opposes charging fees, mostly since the fees are set up to pay for the state's and counties' facilitating of primary elections...which the Libertarians and Greens don't have in this state.
Stay Tooned. There will be further updates as we continue to follow the progress of HB 2504.
Blogging Sporadically since 2014
Here you will find political campaign-related entries, as well as some about my literature, Houston underground arts, peace & justice, urban cycling, soccer, alt-religion, and other topics.