Saturday, June 29, 2019

#TXLEGE: Did Geren just BLUNDER us into ANOTHER Redistricting Lawsuit?!?

"Wine is a mocker,
Strong drink is a brawler,
And whoever is led astray by it is not wise."
Proverbs 20:1

H.B. 4181 was an anti-open government bill that passed this session.  It carves the legislature out of the Texas Public Information Act.  Sounds bad enough on its own...right?!?

But wait, there's more!!!

From Lauren McGaughy:
AUSTIN — Texas has passed a new law that lets lawmakers conceal their emails and other communications from public scrutiny, as they prepare to redraw the state’s voting maps.


In a statement to The News, [Bill Author Charlie] Geren said the new law codifies existing practice and protects lawmakers from overreach and outside pressure.

“Legislative privilege ‘serves important public purposes’ and ensures that members and their staffs are protected from substantial intrusions by the executive and judicial branch seeking to second guess the Legislature’s motives,” Geren said, citing a recent Texas Supreme Court case.

He then specifically mentioned the last round of redistricting in 2011. After a legal challenge, state lawmakers and legislative employees were ordered to release damning emails that helped advocates prove the state’s voting maps were racially gerrymandered.

Geren’s Fort Worth district was adjacent to one that the courts eventually ordered to be redrawn.

“They reached this conclusion in part because they said the privileges were not explicitly and completely spelled out in the Legislative Council statute,” Geren said, referring to the Legislature’s nonpartisan research agency. “House Bill 4181 codifies the common law of legislative privilege, developed from the Speech and Debate Clause of the Texas Constitution, as traditionally understood by the Legislature and the Texas courts.”

We're not sure what's worse: That Geren perceives the issue this way...or that he said so out loud to the Dallas Morning News.

Rather than addressing the incompetence that produced the last round of lawsuits, Charlie Geren's genius idea is to deny citizens access to information.

Speaking of geniuses, it doesn't take one to see how this plays out: Having been given another chance to sue their way into a favorable redistricting map...that's exactly what the Democrats will do.

If the file that lawsuit in front of the wrong judge...who knows?!?

Bottom Line: Texas is going to rue this bill for the next decade.

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