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Hearing Set for March 14 on SB 100

Bill could change deadlines on election calendars and filing for office

SB 100, a bill to which many county officials will want to pay close attention, has been set for hearing at 9 a.m. Monday, March 14, in Senate State Affairs, Senate Chamber.

County officials who must deal with election calendars or who may want to run for another office will be interested in watching the bill and its transformation as it goes through the legislative process.

SB 100 was filed by Sen. Leticia Van de Putte (D-San Antonio) to bring the state into compliance with a federal law mandating that absentee ballots be sent to overseas and military voters no later than 45 days before an election.

Congress passed the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act (MOVE) in 2009.

Complying with the MOVE deadline will cause the election calendar dates to change to allow for the 45 days. Several proposed election calendars have been reviewed and discussed with stakeholders in an attempt to determine which schedule would be the least disruptive to counties, cities, school districts and political parties. A consensus has yet to be reached among the stakeholders.

Changing the election calendar could require moving the primary filing deadline, possibly to December. Such an early filing deadline would trigger the resign-to-run provisions in the state Constitution for certain district and county officers. Certain district and county officers who announce their candidacies for offices they do not currently hold, when they have more than one year remaining in their term, trigger automatic resignation from their current offices. Van de Putte is working to overcome the resign to run impediment by introducing SJR 37 to repeal Article XVI, Section 65, the resign to run constitutional provision.

The state feels that it must take action regarding the MOVE Act because the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has been aggressively ensuring that states comply with the MOVE Act, including filing lawsuits against some states for non-compliance. The DOJ did grant waivers to some states because “their primary election dates fell too close to the MOVE Act deadline for sending ballots, which created an undue burden on the states.” However, obtaining a waiver for Texas is not a sure thing.

The House companion to SB 100 is HB 111 by Rep. Van Taylor (R-Plano.)