Debate Magazine

Texas House Repeals First Amendment to Restrict Citizen Journalism

By Eowyn @DrEowyn

Jay Root reports for the Texas Tribune that, by a vote of 102-44 in favor, the Texas House on Wednesday, May 27, 2015, gave final sign-off to SB 19, a far-reaching ethics reform package that would shine light on so-called “dark money” while heavily restricting undercover recordings in the state Capitol.

The bill’s language dealing with secret recordings sparked the most heated debate — and demonstrated the degree to which legislators have been rattled by activists who have been following them around and, according to published reports, capturing their movements and conversations.

The bill’s author, Rep. Byron Cook, R-Corsicana, didn’t name the American Phoenix Foundation, but it was clear he was referring to the group, which is supported in part by donations from conservative businessmen. Cook said its tactics represented an aggressive new strategy, ominously telling his colleagues that “this is a dark and evil force that’s on us now. This is the people’s House right here and everybody can watch and participate, but chasing people back and forth between offices, sneaking up on people — that’s not what this should be about. It’s never happened before.”

Rep. Byron Cook & Morgan Meyer

Before its final vote, the House added an amendment from state Rep. Morgan Meyer, R-Dallas, that describes the conditions under which someone can record conversations in the state Capitol. Under the amendment, those who fail to disclose or falsely disclose that they are recording a conversation would be opening themselves to civil lawsuits.

According to Clash Daily, SB 19 is a repeal of portions of the First Amendment, effectively ending citizen journalism in the Capitol. The new law is an attempt for legislators to shield themselves from scrutiny even in public areas of the Capitol building. Civil penalties for video reporting could now include $10,000 fines per occurrence.

Below are the 46 Texas State House Republicans who voted to repeal the First Amendment. Let them know what you think of them.

  1. Trent Ashby (HD 57) @TrentAshbyTX[email protected]
  2. Jimmy Don Aycock (HD 54) @Aycockjda, [email protected]
  3. Cindy Burkett (HD 113) @CindyBurkett_TX, [email protected]
  4. DeWayne Burns (HD 58) @BurnsForTexas
  5. Angie Chen Button (HD 112) @AngieChenButton
  6. Giovanni Capriglione (HD 98) @VoteGiovanni, [email protected]
  7. Travis Clardy (HD 11) @TravisForTexas
  8. Byron Cook (HD 8) [email protected]
  9. Tony Dale (HD 136) @TonyDaleTX
  10. Drew Darby (HD 72) @drewdarby4Tx, [email protected]
  11. Sarah Davis (HD 134) @SarahforHD134, [email protected]
  12. Gary Elkins (HD 135) [email protected]
  13. Wayne Faircloth (HD 23) @WayneFaircloth
  14. Dr. Marsha Farney (HD 20) @DrMarshaFarney, [email protected]
  15. John Frullo (HD 84) @FrulloForTexas, [email protected]
  16. Rick Galindo (HD 117) @GalindoForRep
  17. Charlie Geren (HD 99) @charliegeren
  18. Larry Gonzales (HD 52) @larrygonzales52, [email protected]
  19. Patricia Harless (HD 126) @PatriciaHarless, [email protected]
  20. Dan Huberty (HD 127) @DanHuberty, [email protected]
  21. Todd Hunter (HD 32) @toddahunter, @Dist32StateRep, [email protected]
  22. Kyle Kacal (HD 12) @KyleKacal, [email protected]
  23. Jim Keffer (HD 60) @RepJimKeffer, [email protected]
  24. Ken King (HD 88) @KingForTexas, [email protected]
  25. Linda Koop (HD 102) @LindaKoopHD102
  26. John Kuempel (HD 44) [email protected]
  27. Lyle Larson (HD 122) @RepLyleLarson, [email protected]
  28. Jose Manuel Lozano (HD 43) @RepJMLozano, [email protected]
  29. Morgan Meyer (HD 108) @MorganMeyerTX, [email protected]
  30. Doug Miller (HD 73) @DougMiller73, [email protected]
  31. Rick Miller (HD 26) @Vote4Rick, [email protected]
  32. Jim Murphy (HD 133) @JimMurphy133, [email protected]
  33. John Otto (HD 18) @RepJohnOtto, [email protected]
  34. Tan Parker (HD 63) @tparker63, [email protected]
  35. Larry Philips (HD 62) [email protected]
  36. Four Price (HD 87) @FourPriceTX
  37. John Raney (HD 14) @RaneyForTexas, [email protected]
  38. Debbie Riddle (HD 150) @debbieriddle
  39. Dr. J.D. Sheffield (HD 59) @dr_sheffield, [email protected]
  40. Ron Simmons (HD 65) @RonSimmonsTexas, [email protected]
  41. Wayne Smith (HD 128) [email protected]
  42. Ed Thompson (HD 29) @RepEdThompson, [email protected]
  43. Gary VanDeaver (HD 1) @GaryVanDeaver
  44. Jason Villalba (HD 114) @JasonVillalba, [email protected]
  45. Paul Workman (HD 47) @PaulWorkman, [email protected]
  46. John Wray (HD 10) @wrayfortexas10


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