El Paso City Council has instructed city staff to include an item on next week’s agenda that would repeal the initiative passed by voters that took away benefits from gay and unmarried partners. This directive was made after the city found an additional 200 people would lose benefits on top of the 19 domestic partners who already signed up for health insurance. Last year, City Council approved the domestic partners policy, extending health benefits to domestic partners of city employees.

Read the story from KVIA 7

In the months of campaigning before the Nov. 2 elections, Republican candidates at the state and local level were unified in their campaign message they delivered in TV ads and stump speeches: a vote for the GOP was a vote for belt-tightening, back-to-the basics fiscal conservatism. County politics, by its nature less partisan and more inclined to workaday issues like road building and jail maintenance, followed a similar script of economic frugality.

Read the story from the Hays Free Press

The El Paso Municipal Police Officers Association has taken a stand against a ballot initiative that would rescind health benefits for unmarried and gay partners of city employees. The proposed ordinance has been placed on the ballot by a local religious group. The police association is not against the ordinance for moral or religious reasons. The organization just wants to make sure retirees continue getting health insurance - something they’re concerned might not happen if the ordinance passes.

Read the story from KVIA 7

With the city’s alcohol election only five weeks away, an Oak Cliff group is launching an information initiative about the two ballot measures. Dallas voters will decide Nov. 2 whether to allow the sale of beer and wine in stores citywide and whether to eliminate the “private club” rule for restaurants, as in let them sell alcoholic beverages without that silly and costly membership card requirement.

Read the story from The Dallas Morning News

Earlier this year, Brandon Holmes and I traveled to Big Spring, TX to talk with folks there whose citizen rights were being violated. The city council held an illegal meeting in order to stifle their citizen initiative.

A settlement was eventually reached after citizens filed a lawsuit over the matter.

The Big Spring City Council Tuesday approved Mayor Tommy Duncan’s recommendation to form a special committee to look at city council term limits, as well as “initiative and referendum”. Mayor Duncan is suggesting two, three year terms as the limit for a person to serve on city council. Initiative and referendum, says Duncan, would offer voters more opportunity to affect decisions on larger projects in the future, whether it be to promote a project concept, or to repeal something already put in place by a city council.

Boosters of Houston’s 70 red-light cameras are seeking to prevent a November vote on whether to ban the devices, alleging in a federal lawsuit that the initiative was placed on the ballot illegally and that it could violate the Voting Rights Act. The proposal, which City Council voted to put on the ballot last month, did not follow guidelines in the city charter that require those seeking repeal of a law through referendum to challenge it within 30 days of the law’s passage, the suit says. The ordinance authorizing the use of red light cameras passed in 2004.

After gathering more than 5,000 signatures for a petition to sell hard liquor in retail stores, voters in Killeen and Harker Heights will be able to vote on the proposal in November. But it wasn’t always this easy. Supporters of alcohol initiatives used to be weary of opposition groups that handed out leaflets promising a spike in DUI arrests and domestic violence if the proposal passed.

Read the story from KXXV 25

The Travis County district attorney’s office is looking into whether a crime was committed in getting the Green Party on the November ballot. “The matter is under review and investigators and attorneys from the Public Integrity Unit will gather additional information as that review progresses,” District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg’s office said in a statement. Texas Democrats have accused Republicans of paying to help the Green Party get on the ballot to pull liberal votes away from Bill White, the Democratic candidate for governor who is challenging Republican Rick Perry.

Anti-camera measures gain support

Wed, Jun 30 2010 — Source: The Newspaper

Voter initiatives to outlaw photo enforcement gained a second wind this week in Texas and Washington state as enough signatures have been gathered to force the issue onto the November ballot. In both Baytown, Texas and Mukilteo, Washington, organizers required a renewed effort to meet all of the legal requirements. Later today in the Lone Star State, SaferBaytown.com leader Byron Schirmbeck will turn in a second batch of signatures to the city clerk’s office.

On Tuesday, June 8, I testified before the subcommittee of the Republican Party of Texas (RPT) Platform Committee that handled the pro-initiative and referendum (I&R) resolutions that came out of the Senatorial District Conventions.  The cards were stacked against us as members of this subcommittee were hand picked and all were anti-I&R.  Shirley Spellerberg, the woman who proudly told me at the hearing that she was the one responsible for getting I&R of the platform in 1996, was selected for this committee to ensure that it would fail again.

As Alamo Heights initiative and referendum activists geared up for a petition drive to ask the city to recognize the power of citywide initiative, referendum and recall three new members of the city council beat them to the punch by proposing such a process themselves. Activists in the city of 7,400 inform me that expansion of democracy was on the agenda for the new members at the outset of their terms. You can read about it here.

Texas: Possibility of alcohol initiative

Wed, May 26 2010 — Source: News 8

Dry regions in Georgetown follow stricter liquor laws, but one group wants to make those regions wet. It’s all in an effort to get local businesses more money. “This is not a liquor issue. This is an economic issue,” Karin Truxillo said. Truxillo is helping lead the Georgetown Winery Initiative. “This is leveling the playing field for downtown [and] for Sun City. The areas that are dry versus the areas that are wet. They have an advantage at the present time.”


I have some good news and bad news to report. The good news is that a resolution to put a pro I&R plank back on the Republican Party of Texas (RPT) Platform has made it through the Senatorial District conventions and is headed to the Platform Committee at the State Convention next month. A pro-I&R plank was on the RPT platform from 1979 to 1996. Two separate advisory referendums on the Republican party primary ballots showed the rank and file favored I&R by margins of 7 to 1 and 5 to 1.

The farm bureau says HSUS claims it is only attacking “puppy mills,” but that is not their true intent. HSUS has shut down or seriously hampered animal agriculture in states like California, Arizona, Colorado and Ohio by first claiming to only be concerned with “puppy mills,” Farm Bureau said. True farmers and ranchers are among the best animal caretakers around and none tolerate cruel treatment to their animals, it said in a release.