HB 464 would impose a filing fee for the general election on state and county officers. If passed, this bill, sponsored by Rep. Drew Springer (R-HD-68), would seriously curtail the ability of the Green Party of Texas to field candidates for state and county offices.
Currently, while the two major parties have their primary elections funded largely at tax payer expense (see pages 3 and 4 of the state budget report), the Green Party pays for all the expenses for our convention system though private funding.
Not only does this create an unconstitutional barrier to ballot access, there are not enough financial resources to bring a constitutional challenge, so if this passes, we are pretty much stuck with it.
So Please call your legislators immediately.
What follows is a combined message from Texans for Accountable Government (TAG), and the two-political parties that are part of the TAG coalition.
Strong character and principle is about protecting the rights of the minority and the most vulnerable, and right now there is an overt attack on non-primary, aka. 'third' parties here in Texas. Non-primary parties, such as the Green & Libertarian Parties, could essentially be legislated out of existence from HB464, which is quickly moving through the Texas House.
Current Action Plan:
We've included the calendars committee, their office numbers, and their phone numbers below. We need to treat them as allies at this point. Make your opinion known, but be very respectful, polite, and attempt to humanize with these members. You'll want to speak to the chief of staff or legislative director. The goal is to prevent this bill from hitting the floor, or at least delay it as much as possible.
CALENDARS COMMITTEE MEMBERS:
Chair: Rep Hunter GW.18 - 512-463-0672
Vice Chair: Rep. Lucio III E1.320 - 512-463-0606
Rep. Alonzo 1N.12 - 512-463-0408
Rep. Cook GN.11 - 512-463-0730
Rep. Davis E2.310 - (512) 463-0389
Rep. Geren GW.17 - 512-463-0610
Rep. Giddings GW.11 - 512-463-0953
Rep. Harless E2.408 - 512-463-0496
Rep. Huberty E2.722 - (512) 463-0520
Rep. Johnson E1.204 - (512) 463-0586
Rep. King E2.416 - (512) 463-0736
Rep. Larson E2.406 - (512) 463-0646
Rep. Price E2.610 - (512) 463-0470
Rep. Riddle 4N.7 - 512-463-0572
Rep Rodriguez E1.212 - (512) 463-0669
Below is a message directly from Kurt Hildebrand, member of Texans for Accountable Government, and Chair of the Libertarian Party of Texas [tweaked by kat swift - cochair of GPTX]:
"Texas House Bill 464 (HB464) will change the rules for minor party and Independent candidates to require filing fees of hundreds or thousands of dollars per candidate.
This is a new and unconstitutional TAX on the political process itself, and it must be stopped.
I can't say this strongly enough. If this bill becomes law it will shut down the Libertarian[, Green, and all] other 3rd parties in our state - and that's exactly what the bill is designed to do.
This bill is continuing to move toward a vote on the House floor and it could be scheduled any time, even within the next week. The bill is currently with the calendars committee for scheduling so we need to immediately call those members and let them know that this bill is a bad deal for voters, for democracy, and for Texas.
In the name of liberty and fair elections, I need you to take immediate action TODAY.
IF YOU LIVE IN THE AUSTIN AREA OR CAN GET THERE:
Immediately contact [GPTexas CoChair kat swift at (210) 471-1791 or bexarkat @ gmail] and schedule a time with her to go lobbying at the capitol. We are scheduling lobbying in shifts Monday - Wednesday of next week.
IF YOU KNOW ACTIVISTS IN THE AUSTIN AREA:
Tell them to immediately contact [kat - see above] and schedule a time with her to go lobbying at the capitol. We are scheduling lobbying in shifts Monday - Wednesday of next week.
IF YOU ARE NOT IN THE AREA OR CANNOT TRAVEL:
Call your State Reps, Call members of the House Calendars Committee, and encourage others in your network to do the same. The Calendars committee members and their contacts are listed below. See the phone call script below to help you get started.
Go to [http://gptx.nationbuilder.com/hb464] and use our tool to sign our petition and also go to [action.lptexas.org and] send a respectful message to your representative expressing your opposition to this bill. This only takes a few minutes but it really works and it's important.
BASIC PHONE CALL SCRIPT:
1. Get the number of your Texas State Representative from:http://www.fyi.legis.state.tx.us.
2. Take that number and the number of all the members of the calendars committee and make a call list.
3. Call the number.
4. When the staffer answers, say "Hi, I'm a constituent (or concerned citizen), and I want to urge Representative [name] to vote against House Bill 464."
5. The staffer might ask for a little more info, or the staffer may just say "Thank you, I'll pass that along." And you're done.
HB 464 TALKING POINTS:
HB 464 imposes a filing fee for convention-selected political candidates to appear on the general election ballot. Though touted by Rep. Drew Springer (R-HD-68) as ["leveling the playing field,"* (since primary-selected candidates pay the same fee to appear on the Primary Election ballot), HB 464 goes far off level.]
Unlike primary political parties, non-primary parties use NO taxpayer money for their candidate-selection process. The general election filing fee for non-primary candidates thus imposes an [additional and unnecessary financial] burden on such candidates. Our opposition to HB 464 is based on the following.
* There are already significant requirements in the Texas election code for convention-selection parties to appear on the general election ballot. HB 464 would unfairly impose additional requirements not imposed on primary-selection political parties.
* The effect of HB 464 will undoubtedly be to limit voter choice and increase voter apathy and cynicism. Voter participation rates in Texas are already abysmal and this law would make the problem even worse.
* HB 464 likely violates both the equal protection clause of the US Constitution (see for example Bullock v. Carter, 1972 US Supreme Court ruling) as well as various laws and court rulings against taxes used to manage the election process. Given that the proposed fees would be paid to the Secretary of State and not the Party, and that there is no obvious use for these funds in the absence of a primary, this fee looks very much like a ballot tax on non-primary candidacies.
Though HB 464's intent is to level the playing field among political candidates, its effect is precisely the opposite. The Texas Legislature should make sure that our political processes be fairly applied to all who seek office in the State.
Thank you for your past and continued support of liberty and of the Green and Libertarian Parties of Texas. We will keep you up to date on this bill's progress and others that may threaten our electoral system or prevent freedom and choice in politics. We are counting on you, Liberty is counting on you, and the future of elections in Texas is counting on you.
Texans for Accountable Government
Green Party of Texas
*See public Elections committee hearing closing statement on this bill.