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Requiring Attorney General Approval of Municipal Ballot Initiatives

HB 540 – King, P
HB 540 would require the Texas Attorney General to certify that public ballot initiatives proposing the adoption or repeal of a municipal ordinance or charter amendment comply with state and federal law. The Attorney General would have up to 90 days to certify. The public ballot initiative process is sometimes used in attempts to repeal municipal non-discrimination ordinances. Extending that process by an additional 90 days would give unscrupulous signature gatherers additional time to collect signatures in favor of repeal. Additionally, the Attorney General is the state’s lawyers and although their legal opinions are, one presumes, the best possible legal advice from the state’s top lawyer they do not, and should not, carry the weight of law and should not be binding on the actions of non-state entities like municipalities. The judicial system is the proper venue for determining the legality of municipal public ballot initiatives, not the Attorney General’s office.