Bill Text: TX HB4537 | 2019-2020 | 86th Legislature | Introduced


Bill Title: Relating to requirements for certain petitions requesting an election and ballot propositions.

Spectrum: Partisan Bill (Republican 1-0)

Status: (Introduced) 2019-03-26 - Referred to Elections [HB4537 Detail]

Download: Texas-2019-HB4537-Introduced.html
  86R6916 ATP-D
 
  By: Swanson H.B. No. 4537
 
 
 
A BILL TO BE ENTITLED
 
AN ACT
  relating to requirements for certain petitions requesting an
  election and ballot propositions.
         BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS:
         SECTION 1.  Section 52.072, Election Code, is amended by
  adding Subsection (f) to read as follows:
         (f)  A proposition must substantially submit the question
  with such definiteness and certainty that the voters are not
  misled.
         SECTION 2.  Chapter 233, Election Code, is amended by adding
  Section 233.0115 to read as follows:
         Sec. 233.0115.  BALLOT LANGUAGE MANDAMUS ACTION. If a court
  orders a new election under Section 233.011, a person may seek from
  the court a writ of mandamus to compel the governing body of a city
  to comply with the requirement that a ballot proposition must
  substantially submit the question with such definiteness and
  certainty that the voters are not misled, as provided by Section
  273.102.
         SECTION 3.  Section 253.094(b), Election Code, is amended to
  read as follows:
         (b)  A corporation or labor organization may not make a
  political contribution in connection with a recall election,
  including the circulation and submission of a petition to call an
  election. This subsection does not prohibit a religious
  organization from circulating or submitting a petition in
  connection with a recall election.
         SECTION 4.  Chapter 273, Election Code, is amended by adding
  Subchapter F to read as follows:
  SUBCHAPTER F. BALLOT PROPOSITION LANGUAGE ENFORCEMENT PROVISIONS
         Sec. 273.101.  REVIEW BY SECRETARY OF STATE. (a)  Not later
  than the seventh day after the date on which a home-rule city
  publishes in the election order or by other means ballot
  proposition language proposing an amendment to the city charter or
  a voter-initiated initiative or referendum as requested by
  petition, a registered voter eligible to vote in the election may
  submit the proposition for review by the secretary of state.
         (b)  The secretary of state shall review the proposition not
  later than the seventh day after the date the secretary receives the
  submission to determine whether the proposition is misleading or
  inaccurate.
         (c)  If the secretary of state determines that the
  proposition is misleading or inaccurate, the city shall draft a
  proposition to cure the defects and give notice of the new
  proposition using the method of giving notice prescribed for notice
  of an election under Section 4.003.
         (d)  A proposition drafted by a city under Subsection (c) to
  cure the defects may be submitted to the secretary of state under
  Subsection (a). If the secretary of state determines that the city
  has on its third attempt drafted a proposition that is misleading or
  inaccurate, the secretary of state shall draft the ballot
  proposition.
         Sec. 273.102.  MANDAMUS ACTIONS. (a) In an action in a
  court of competent jurisdiction seeking a writ of mandamus to
  compel the city's governing body to comply with the requirement
  that a ballot proposition must substantially submit the question
  with such definiteness and certainty that the voters are not
  misled, the court shall make its determination without delay and
  may order the city to use ballot proposition language drafted by the
  court.
         (b)  The court may award a plaintiff or relator who
  substantially prevails in a mandamus action described by Subsection
  (a) the party's reasonable attorney's fees, expenses, and court
  costs.
         (c)  Governmental immunity to suit is waived and abolished
  only to the extent of the liability created by Subsection (b).
         Sec. 273.103.  MANDATORY SUBMISSION TO SECRETARY OF STATE.
  Following a final nonappealable judgment containing a finding by a
  court that a ballot proposition drafted by a city failed to
  substantially submit the question with such definiteness and
  certainty that the voters are not misled, the city shall submit to
  the secretary of state for approval any proposition to be voted on
  at an election held by the city before the fourth anniversary of the
  court's finding.
         Sec. 273.104.  CITY REQUIRED TO PAY FOR LEGAL SERVICES.
  Notwithstanding a home-rule city charter provision to the contrary,
  a city may not accept legal services relating to a proceeding under
  this subchapter without paying fair market value for those
  services.
         SECTION 5.  Sections 277.001, 277.002, 277.0021, 277.0022,
  277.0023, 277.0024, and 277.003, Election Code, are designated as
  Subchapter A, Chapter 277, Election Code, and a heading is added to
  Subchapter A to read as follows:
  SUBCHAPTER A. PROVISIONS RELATING TO SIGNATURES, VALIDITY, AND
  VERIFICATION OF PETITIONS
         SECTION 6.  Section 277.001, Election Code, is amended to
  read as follows:
         Sec. 277.001.  APPLICABILITY OF SUBCHAPTER [CHAPTER]. This
  subchapter [chapter] applies to a petition authorized or required
  to be filed under a law outside this code in connection with an
  election.
         SECTION 7.  Section 277.002, Election Code, is amended by
  adding Subsection (f) to read as follows:
         (f)  The illegibility of a signature on a petition submitted
  to a home-rule city is not a valid basis for invalidating the
  signature if the information provided with the signature as
  required by this section and other applicable law legibly provides
  enough information to demonstrate that the signer:
               (1)  is eligible to have signed the petition; and
               (2)  signed the petition on or after the 180th day
  before the date the petition was filed.
         SECTION 8.  Subchapter A, Chapter 277, Election Code, as
  added by this Act, is amended by adding Section 277.005 to read as
  follows:
         Sec. 277.005.  PETITION FORM; USE BY CITY AND OTHER PERSONS.
  (a) The secretary of state shall prescribe a form, content, and
  procedure for a petition.
         (b)  A home-rule city that uses a form that is different from
  the official form prescribed under Subsection (a) may not
  invalidate a petition because the petition does not contain
  information that the petition form failed to provide for or to
  require to be provided.
         (c)  A person who circulates or submits a petition is not
  required to use a petition form prescribed by the secretary of state
  or a home-rule city. A petition that does not use an officially
  prescribed form must contain the substantial elements required to
  be provided on the officially prescribed form.
         SECTION 9.  Chapter 277, Election Code, is amended by adding
  Subchapter B to read as follows:
  SUBCHAPTER B. SUBMISSION OF CERTAIN CITY PETITIONS
         Sec. 277.031.  APPLICABILITY OF SUBCHAPTER. This subchapter
  applies to a home-rule city that has a procedure requiring the
  governing body of the city to hold an election on receipt of a
  petition requesting the election that complies with the applicable
  requirements.
         Sec. 277.032.  CONFLICTS WITH CITY CHARTER OR OTHER LAW.  The
  provisions of this subchapter apply notwithstanding any city
  charter provision or other law.
         Sec. 277.033.  DETERMINATION OF VALIDITY. The city
  secretary shall determine the validity of a petition submitted
  under this subchapter, including by verifying the petition
  signatures, not later than the 30th day after the date the city
  receives the petition.
         Sec. 277.034.  COLLECTOR REQUIREMENTS PROHIBITED. A city
  may not restrict who may collect petition signatures.
         SECTION 10.  Sections 9.004(a) and (c), Local Government
  Code, are amended to read as follows:
         (a)  The governing body of a municipality on its own motion
  may submit a proposed charter amendment to the municipality's
  qualified voters for their approval at an election. The governing
  body shall submit a proposed charter amendment to the voters for
  their approval at an election if the submission is supported by a
  petition signed by a number of registered [qualified] voters of the
  municipality equal to at least five percent of the number of
  registered [qualified] voters of the municipality on the date of
  the most recent election held throughout the municipality or
  20,000, whichever number is the smaller.
         (c)  Notice of the election shall be published in a newspaper
  of general circulation published in the municipality. The notice
  must:
               (1)  include a substantial copy of the proposed
  amendment in which language sought to be deleted by the amendment is
  bracketed and stricken through and language sought to be added by
  the amendment is underlined;
               (2)  include an estimate of the anticipated fiscal
  impact to the municipality if the proposed amendment is approved at
  the election; and
               (3)  be published on the same day in each of two
  successive weeks, with the first publication occurring before the
  14th day before the date of the election.
         SECTION 11.  Section 277.004, Election Code, is repealed.
         SECTION 12.  Not later than January 1, 2020, the secretary of
  state shall adopt a petition form as required by Section 277.005,
  Election Code, as added by this Act.
         SECTION 13.  The changes in law made by this Act apply only
  to a petition submitted on or after January 1, 2020.
         SECTION 14.  This Act takes effect September 1, 2019.
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