HB 2511 IS UP FOR VOTE!! Urgent Action Needed!! Bill Stifles Free Speech of Nonprofits, Restricts Voters Guides

Update: 5:30 p.m.-Bill passes 71-63, 15 absent. Click here to see record vote. http://www.legis.state.tx.us/BillLookup/RecordVote.aspx?LegSess=81R&Bill=HB2511&RcdVtNo=889&Ch=H&Dt=05/15/2009Update


5:03 p.m.-Rep. Phil King is now asking questions about the bill. 

Update 4:53-Vote coming on Wolley amendment-need 2/3rd to pass, because this is 3rd reading.   Amendment fail, 58-81.  Ouch.  That could likely be the same number on which the bill ultimately passes.

Update: 4:40 p.m.-Amendments continued to be added.  Dunnam adding amendments. Rep. Wooley offers amendment to take bill back to the original language of HB 2511-which was for it to be a study of election related issues, then the bill was changed drastically at the committee stage.  Being discussed now. Smart, smart move.

UPDATE:  4:30 P.M. -HB 2511 IS NOW UP FOR A VOTE!!  Rep. Phil King is offering an amendment, to insert more favorable bill language.

 HB 2511 would put restrictions on the content of our nonpartisan voters guide and limit our communication with you on important policy decisions, as a nonprofit organization.  These issues have been the subject of expensive lawsuits, one of which had to make its way up the U.S. Supreme Court to protect the free speech rights of a nonprofit organizations.

Call your State Rep. now and tell him or her to vote “NO” on this bill; this bill could be voted on starting at 5 p.m. today!! http://www.fyi.legis.state.tx.us/

 HB 2511 attempts to graft into state election law several contentious provision of the Federal McCain Feingold Campaign Finance Law.  For example, peppered throughout the bill is the term “separate segregated fund” (first mentioned on page 2 line 9) which is a defined term of art in federal election finance law but which HB 2511 doesn’t define completely for Texas.  Therefore, the Ethics Commission will have to rely on Federal Elections Commission interpretation of the term.  HB 2511 creates a new term in state law for “Electioneering Communication” and adopts the McCain-Feingold definition for the term.  This term is currently the subject of litigation before the U.S. Supreme Court in the Citizens United v. FEC so we really don’t know what definition we are adopting of that term.

 HB 2511 also creates a term “express advocacy” that is copied from McCain-Feingold.  This term was litigated last term before the U.S. Supreme Court in Wisconsin Right to Life v. FEC and the implication of that decision are still being argued before the FEC on other administrative actions.

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