Citizen referendums are fundamental to democracy

Texas League of Conservation Voters urges “NO” votes on HB 2595. Home rule cities have enormous powers to govern.  But in circumstances when governing bodies are not acting—or are slow to act—initiatives have proven useful tools for VOTERS to enact local ordinances and legislate a city’s activities.

From the Texas League of Conservation Voters:

How It Works:

HB 2595 proposes to restrict a city’s ability to accept a voter initiated referendum or ballot initiative. It specifically precludes a city’s ability to allow citizens to self-govern if that initiative could impact the economic value of property.

What It Could Eliminate:

This could eliminate a citizen’s right to urge local elections on:

• Sign ordinances like those in Houston regarding billboards
• Zoning regulations for things like landfills
• Gaming ordinances to discourage “gaming rooms”
• Gun sale ordinances like those requiring gun dealers to register
• Coastal or riverine development ordinances
• Tree conservation ordinances

Why It’s Bad for Texas:

Texas already has a Private Real Property Rights Preservation Act. The Private Real Property Rights Preservation Act specifically limits government’s ability to impact private property or lower the economic value of that private property. This is a useful tool that affects a variety of city activities and is not restricted to oil and gas ordinances like HB 40. This bill should be stopped.

This bill goes too far and limits a citizen’s right to self govern.

Summary:

Home rule cities have enormous powers to govern. But in circumstances when governing bodies are not acting—or are slow to act—initiatives have proven useful tools for VOTERS to enact local ordinances and legislate a city’s activities.

This bill attacks democracy by limiting a citizen’s right to petition his or her own local government.


[1] Most oil and gas companies dropped cards in favor.  But with passage of HB 40 with more specific language, this bill could have severe unintended consequences for a city in land use development, quality of life issues like signs and trees, as well as gaming and guns.  VOTE NO.