2015 Lege Session

(Note: This page is outdated, but we are keeping this up on the site for you to know what we were doing in the 2015 legislative session. Get involved with us now to work towards positive change in the 2017 legislative session.) )The 2015 legislativeTexas Legislature session, like all sessions, is about a myriad of issues and within them, a myriad of ways of resolving them – for better or worse.

Be sure and visit the drop down pages underneath this menu item -- especially "Good/Bad Bills".

The League of Independent Voters of Texas was founded in the fall of 2013 with a mission to address the continued crisis bubbling up from our local communities in protection of land and water resources and, with those issues, our local economies and political process, itself. This paper, "Who Will Organize the Independents?" written by Linda Curtis in 2010, is about how the independent movement has been working inside and outside the political parties, to create a way out for the majority of Texans who either hold their nose while voting for the lesser of two evils, or are opting out altogether.

The problems remain in how the state and its agencies continue to conduct their business on behalf of private interests. This is why we founded the League of Independent Voters. Now, we have a much bigger problem than TxDOT and a Governor with a hearing problem. We have the most powerful interests – especially the real estate and oil and gas lobbies – on a warpath as they refuse to agree to basic reforms. The examples are endless. They range from insisting on special rules for oil and gas and their "right" to ride roughshod on property rights and the environment, to neutering the SOAH (State Office of Administrative Hearings) process. Their goal is to mute citizens contests of plans to drain aquifers to toxic waste dumps that can change a community forever.

Last fall, when Denton voters passed a "frack ban" on future drilling within the city limits, it was a perfectly reasonable ordinance for a densely populated city. But since then, the oil and gas industry has continued to have a tizzy. The industry overplayed their hand through HB 540 introduced by Rep. Phil King (R-Weatherford), demanding a change in a 100-year law that guarantees citizens a relief valve – the right to petition for a public vote in all home rule cities. It would require the review and approval of one state official, the Attorney General, of all citizens petitions.

Though it appears for now that legislators on the House State Affairs Committee have, to their credit, not much stomach for House Bill 540, the Energy Committee in the House is now addressing HB 40. HB 40, HB 2855 (both introduced by Rep. Drew Darby, R-San Angelo) and SB 1165 (introduced by Sen. Troy Fraser, R-Horseshoe Bay). These bills go for another jugular, the rights of the cities themselves to regulate oil and gas activities within their boundaries. Read this from the Texas Municipal League.

The Texas Municipal League is, reluctantly, opposing HB 540. The municipalities have no love for citizens petitions. Our point is that, just as the pushback on the TTC arose organically, the big lobbies’ warpath could also result in forging another organic coalition between municipalities and citizens for local control. With this in mind, we have joined the Local Control for Texas Coalition.

We would only urge that you understand that the business lobbies are NOT the only problem. Perhaps even bigger is the convergence of these lobbies with state and local government and quasi-governmental entities. The latter ranges from school districts to water authorities to the political parties themselves.

The League’s efforts involve appealing to, educating and mobilizing the largest single “sleeping giant” in Texas and uniting us across rural and urban areas. More than 5 million Texas voters do not align with a political party – we vote for the person, not the party. We agree on little, but what we agree on is fundamental to this session and, we suspect, many to come. That is the rights of local communities and ordinary citizens to be fully included in our policy making process.

In this session our agenda leads with protection of groundwater – the most at-risk resource upon which all our communities depend, especially in the middle of historic drought and a virtual gold rush on groundwater. This likely means opposing a plethora of bills designed to enable the “California model” of moving massive amounts of groundwater out of its natural basin to feed the growth corridors. In this case, we’re fighting Big Real Estate, including most Chambers of Commerce as the Chambers have, themselves, become captives of Big Real Estate. It means making some headway on eminent domain reform. It means aiding the fight for real local economic development (including the increasing demand for local foods, with and through our friends at the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance) It means fighting for election reforms to put the two-parties in check by promoting political competition from and outside of all political parties.

Take these steps with us:

First Step: Join the League of Independent Voters. If you have already, get someone else to join.

Step Two: Be sure to sign the letter at Local Control for Texas. It will be sent immediately to your legislators. Do it now and get others to sign! (Use their site to keep track of a myriad of bills attacking local control.)

Step Three: Use this link to learn who your representatives are. Start calling, emailing and visiting them as well as committee members deliberating on the bill(s) you are for or against. We recommend that you go visit their local offices in your home district. If you can come to Austin, we will stand ready to join your visit with your officials. We encourage you to come on Friday mornings, when staffers have a little more time to chat unless you are really set to try to meet with your official.

Step Four: Make sure to visit our subpages on special bills that we are tracking. (Just hover over the menu item above "2015 Lege Session" and you'll see them -- click on them. Here’s where you can track all bills in the legislature by signing up for bill alerts. (If you have a problem navigating this page, give Linda a call at 512-213-4511 or email her at info@independentleaguetx.org.)

Step Five: Set up a local meeting in your area. We will help you organize it and even invite folks to come. If there’s enough interest we hope to leave behind a local chapter of the League.

Step Six: Become a local organizer of a chapter of the League or join our central organizing team. We meet every Saturday via conference call at 9:00 am. But watch your emails for additional calls or canceled calls.

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