April 1, 2020 •

Austin City Clerk’s Office Closes to the Public

Austin City Hall - by Carol M. Highsmith

Due to the social distancing restrictions being implemented by the City of Austin, the Office of the City Clerk has closed to members of the public. Correspondence and payments pertaining to lobbyist registrations/renewals may still be mailed in and will […]

Due to the social distancing restrictions being implemented by the City of Austin, the Office of the City Clerk has closed to members of the public.

Correspondence and payments pertaining to lobbyist registrations/renewals may still be mailed in and will be processed based on their postage date.

Operations are continuing via telework, and employees may be reached via email.

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March 23, 2020 •

Texas Postpones May Primary Runoff Elections in Response to COVID-19

Texas Capitol Building

Gov. Greg Abbot signed an order on March 20 to delay the May primary runoff elections until July in response to the growing outbreak of COVID-19. Under the order, the May 26 primary runoff elections are now scheduled for July […]

Gov. Greg Abbot signed an order on March 20 to delay the May primary runoff elections until July in response to the growing outbreak of COVID-19.

Under the order, the May 26 primary runoff elections are now scheduled for July 14.

July 14 is also the same day as the special election for Texas Senate District 14.

Early voting will begin July 6.

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March 19, 2020 •

Texas Governor Encourages Local Governments to Postpone Uniform Election

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued a proclamation on March 18 allowing local governments the option to postpone the May 2 uniform election until November 3. If a local election is postponed until November, it will postpone Texas Ethics Commission filing […]

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued a proclamation on March 18 allowing local governments the option to postpone the May 2 uniform election until November 3.

If a local election is postponed until November, it will postpone Texas Ethics Commission filing deadlines associated with that election.

However, if a political subdivision opts to hold local elections on May 2, the deadlines for campaign finance reports filed by candidates, officeholders, and PACs for races or measures on the May 2 ballots remain the same.

The Texas Ethics Commission does not have the statutory authority to extend these types of filing deadlines.

The 30-day pre-election report for the May 2 uniform election is due by April 2.

The eight-day pre-election report is due by April 24.

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March 18, 2020 •

Emergency Order Extends Austin Lobbyist Quarterly Reporting Deadline

Austin City Hall - by Carol M. Highsmith

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Austin Mayor Steve Adler signed an emergency order on March 17. The order suspends all deadlines imposed by city code, ordinance, rule, or other regulation until May 1. Under Section 7 of the order, […]

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Austin Mayor Steve Adler signed an emergency order on March 17.

The order suspends all deadlines imposed by city code, ordinance, rule, or other regulation until May 1.

Under Section 7 of the order, the deadline for all lobbyist quarterly activity reports has been extended to May 1.

No late fees will be accrued for failure to file prior to May 1.

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March 17, 2020 •

Texas Governor Postpones Senate District 14 Special Election

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott

Gov. Greg Abbot has postponed the special election for the Austin area Texas Senate District 14 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The election will replace retiring state Sen. Kirk Watson, an Austin Democrat leaving office at the end of April. […]

Gov. Greg Abbot has postponed the special election for the Austin area Texas Senate District 14 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The election will replace retiring state Sen. Kirk Watson, an Austin Democrat leaving office at the end of April.

The election has been moved from May 2 to July 14.

It is unclear whether additional action will be taken to delay municipal elections across the state, which are scheduled for May 2.

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January 28, 2020 •

El Paso City Council to Hold Runoff for District 6 Seat

Voters in east El Paso and the Lower Valley will choose a new representative in a special runoff election for City Council District 6 on Saturday, January 25. Claudia Rodriguez and Debbie Torres face off in the runoff after they […]

Voters in east El Paso and the Lower Valley will choose a new representative in a special runoff election for City Council District 6 on Saturday, January 25.

Claudia Rodriguez and Debbie Torres face off in the runoff after they had advanced from the December 14 election where four were competing for the seat.

Both are campaigning to keep taxes low and to increase structural repairs.

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September 10, 2019 •

El Paso City Council Votes to Hold Special Election for District 3 Seat

City Rep. Cassandra Hernandez

El Paso City Council voted to hold a special election on November 5 to replace a District 3 councilwoman after a Facebook post on her public page announced her candidacy for mayor. The post by city Rep. Cassandra Hernandez, which […]

El Paso City Council voted to hold a special election on November 5 to replace a District 3 councilwoman after a Facebook post on her public page announced her candidacy for mayor.

The post by city Rep. Cassandra Hernandez, which was later deleted, triggered a resign-to-run law.

The law states that an elected official must resign from office upon announcing a run for another seat.

Rep. Hernandez said she did not upload the post but one of her supporters did.

Hernandez asked city leaders to use their discretion to vote no and asked to be able to vote.

However, her request to vote was denied and the special election for her position was approved with a 4-3 vote.

Hernandez cannot run for her seat in the special election because she is under a holdover clause, meaning she is keeping the seat until her successor fills it.

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September 5, 2019 •

Texas Calls Special Elections for House Districts 28, 100

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott

Gov. Greg Abbott announced Tuesday, November 5 as the special election date to fill House Districts 28 and 100. Rep. John Zerwas announced his early resignation from District 28, effective September 30, after being appointed the executive vice chancellor for […]

Gov. Greg Abbott announced Tuesday, November 5 as the special election date to fill House Districts 28 and 100.

Rep. John Zerwas announced his early resignation from District 28, effective September 30, after being appointed the executive vice chancellor for health affairs for the University of Texas.

District 100 was vacated by former Rep. Eric Johnson, who resigned when he was elected mayor of Dallas.

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August 20, 2019 •

Special Election Scheduled for Houston House Seat

Texas Capitol Building

Gov. Greg Abbott has scheduled a November 5 special election for House District 148. The Houston seat’s representative, Democrat Jessica Farrar, has served in the Texas House for 25 years, but is stepping down to care for her mother. The […]

Gov. Greg Abbott has scheduled a November 5 special election for House District 148.

The Houston seat’s representative, Democrat Jessica Farrar, has served in the Texas House for 25 years, but is stepping down to care for her mother.

The special election will be on the same day as the state’s general municipal elections.

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June 17, 2019 •

Bill Limiting Lobbyist Contributions Signed

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott

This month, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed House Bill 2677 prohibiting persons required to register as a lobbyist from knowingly making or authorizing certain political contributions or political expenditures. Prohibited contributions include those to another candidate, officeholder, or political committee […]

This month, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed House Bill 2677 prohibiting persons required to register as a lobbyist from knowingly making or authorizing certain political contributions or political expenditures.

Prohibited contributions include those to another candidate, officeholder, or political committee from political contributions accepted by the person as a candidate or officeholder or by a specific-purpose committee for the purpose of supporting the person as a candidate or assisting the person as an officeholder.

Under House Bill 2677, making a contribution described above requires a person to refrain from lobbying for a two-year period following the date the person makes or authorizes the contribution.

An exception is created for persons seeking to influence legislation or administrative action on behalf of nonprofit organizations, low income individuals, and a group of individuals with disabilities, and those not receiving compensation for their communications with members of the legislative and executive branches.

House Bill 2677 will go into effect on September 27, 2019.

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April 18, 2019 •

Texas Local Ethics Bills Being Considered

The Texas Legislature is currently considering a bill to allow its counties to enforce local ethics rules.

Senate Bill 710, the Local Government Reform Act, seeks to allow each county to adopt an ethics code enforceable by a local ethics commission.

There is a similar law already in existence allowing local ethics enforcement in counties with a population over 800,000 and an international border.

El Paso County is the only county currently meeting this description.

Also moving through the Legislature is House Bill 1495, aiming to give ethics enforcement powers to El Paso and Montgomery Counties.

If passed, both bills would go into effect on September 1, 2019.

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February 28, 2019 •

Dallas Campaign Finance Violations Rampant

This week, information was released showing many members of the Dallas City Council have committed apparent violations of the city’s campaign finance laws. Some councilmembers have said the violations are due to errors in reporting made in good faith. In […]

This week, information was released showing many members of the Dallas City Council have committed apparent violations of the city’s campaign finance laws.

Some councilmembers have said the violations are due to errors in reporting made in good faith.

In addition to receiving contributions from minors, many received contributions over the city-imposed limits. Currently, no body or office is responsible for oversight of campaign finance reporting in Dallas.

To further the problem, the city disagrees about whether the ethics panel could investigate campaign finance violation complaints, or whether the responsibility would fall on the city secretary.

The city has asked the Texas Ethics Commission to intervene, but the state commission has declined to get involved.

Currently, Dallas has a $1,000 individual contribution limit per election cycle for City Council races and a $5,000 individual cap on mayoral races.

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January 22, 2019 •

Special Election Announced in Texas

Gov. Greg Abbott has set a special election for House District 125 to occur on February 12. State Rep. Justin Rodriguez resigned after being appointed as a Bexar County commissioner. Early voting begins on January 28.

Gov. Greg Abbott has set a special election for House District 125 to occur on February 12.

State Rep. Justin Rodriguez resigned after being appointed as a Bexar County commissioner.

Early voting begins on January 28.

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January 7, 2019 •

Updates to Texas Lobbying Law

Effective January 8, a lobbyist who had also been elected to public office is prohibited from making or authorizing, from political contributions accepted as a candidate or officeholder, a political expenditure that is a political contribution to a candidate, officeholder, […]

Effective January 8, a lobbyist who had also been elected to public office is prohibited from making or authorizing, from political contributions accepted as a candidate or officeholder, a political expenditure that is a political contribution to a candidate, officeholder, or political committee.

This restriction applies after the ending date of the last term for which the lobbyist was elected to public office. This law was created by House Bill 505 of the 2017 Legislature and adds Section 305.029 to the Government Code.

On December 14, 2018, the Texas Ethics Commission adopted an amendment to Texas Ethics Commission Rules §50.1, increasing the legislative per diem from $190 to $221.

Per Texas law, the detailed reporting threshold for food and beverages, entertainment, transportation, and lodging is 60 percent of the legislative per diem.

The detailed reporting threshold therefore increased to $132.60 for these expenditures made on or after January 6, 2019.

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