AUSTIN – Senator Donna Campbell filed SB 616, the Better Ballot Language Act, to ensure more concise ballot language and level the playing field between citizens and local governments in ballot language disputes. The bill follows a recommendation by the Senate Intergovernmental Relations Committee to address recent ballot language controversies by municipalities in which citizens felt issues were obscured or the will of the voters got lost.
“We have seen a number of poorly worded ballot propositions over the past few years, and this has not served the voters well. In disputes between the government and the governed, we must make every effort to ensure that truth is paramount and the rights of the governed are protected,” Senator Campbell said. “This bill empowers Texas citizens to more easily challenge convoluted, confusing, and misleading ballot language without the fear of amassing huge legal fees.”
Senate Bill 616 prohibits cities from accepting pro bono legal services for ballot language challenges and requires local governments to pay for the citizen’s attorney fees in the case of a successful ballot language challenge. The bill is the sixth “local liberty” bill filed by Senator Campbell to liberate Texans from burdening taxes, debt, and regulations imposed by overreaching local governments, part of her CLEAR Initiative.
The CLEAR Initiative stands for Concise Language on bond propositions, Easy to understand budget adoption, increased Accountability to voters, and the addition of online Resources to provide taxpayers with critical information about the taxing entities that impact them.
“The best government is the government that is most accountable to the people, ” Senator Campbell said. “Increasing transparency and encouraging citizens to get more involved in the democratic process are key components to making government work. The Better Ballot Language Act guarantees that Texans have the tools to hold their government accountable.”