The Peoples' Agenda
Holding decision makers accountable to the people
Have you ever felt like an elected official wasn't giving you a straight answer? I've heard it described as being Rep. WouldBut - "I'd would certainly support that, but..."
I'm guessing you left that "conversation" feeling confused, frustrated and angry. And honestly, not feeling respected by your government.
I don't think that's how our Founding Fathers intended our politics to work. They knew we'd disagree and came up with clever ways to force representatives to listen to the people and find common ground.
That's not how it works today. We need a change.
So what does that mean?
We need new ways for voters to express themselves on specific policies and for our elected officials to respond. I propose The Peoples' Agenda.
What is the peoples' agenda?
The "Peoples' Agenda" is a set of bills that all Texas State House Representatives and all Texas State Senators must vote on. No amendments, no delay tactics, no voting "present", no tricks - just up or down. If a bill receives a majority vote in both chambers, the Governor must decide to sign or veto the bill within 24 hours - no exceptions. Any bills that receive the Governor's signature become law.
interesting - but who decides on the set of bills?
One of the biggest problems in our political system today is that the people are not being heard. The Peoples' Agenda is a way to force our elected officials to take up the issues most important to Texans.
So how do we decide which issues are most important to Texans?
Starting on September 1st after the Legislative session ends, any Texas citizen can write a bill and submit it to the Texas Legislative Council (TLC) to be proofread. In fact, here's a nifty tech tool to help edit the bill collectively so one author doesn't hold the pen - Revisolution.
Once approved by the TLC, bills begin collecting signatures from across Texas. Those bills that get enough signatures from registered voters (by June 1st) will be placed on the next general election ballot in November for a vote. Voters will be asked whether they support or oppose the bill.
What's "enough signatures"? All bills must have the signatures of at least 10% of the number of people that voted in the last governor's election. In 2014, 4,718,268 people voted in the governor's race, so the minimum threshold would be 471,827.
And to ensure that bills represent all Texans, all bills must have the signatures of at least 5% of the number of people that voted in the last governor's election from each State Senate District (map). For example, if 100,000 people voted for governor in Senate District 11, the bill would need at least 5,000 signatures from Senate District 11.
If a majority of Texans support the bill in the November election, it is placed on the Peoples' Agenda for the upcoming session.
This is a bit confusing. can you give me an example?
Suppose I want to establish June 1 as "The Peoples' Day". I would work with the Texas Legislative Council (TLC) to put that proposal into proper bill form. Starting September 1, 2019, after the TLC certified my bill, I would begin collecting signatures.
On February 1, 2020, I finally collect 500,000 signatures from all over Texas, and enough from each State Senate District. Then my bill would be placed on the November 2020 General Election ballot.
If a majority of Texas voters vote yes on my bill, then on the last day of the legislative session in Austin, all State Representatives and all State Senators must also vote on my bill.
If the bill receives a majority in both chambers, the Governor must either sign or veto the bill within 24 hours. If the Governor signs it, it becomes law.
OK, BUt why would I want this?
Have you ever had an idea that you thought would help strengthen your community but no one was willing to listen? Maybe you weren't in the same party as your representative or maybe you didn't have the money to get their attention.
This is a way to let your voice be heard and to make sure that Austin listens to the peoples' ideas.
- Do you want to increase funds for public schools / reform public schools?
- Do you want to expand / cut Medicaid?
- Do you want a smaller government?
- Do you want to be able to sell a Tesla in Texas?
- Do you want to remove laws against what you can consume in your body?
If the Legislature isn't listening to your voice, put it on the Peoples' Agenda and force the vote.
And what happens IF the legislature votes no?
If a majority of Texans support a bill and the Legislature defeats the bill, it's a clear signal that incumbents disagree with their constituents and that they should be challenged.
For example, if a district votes in favor of designating June 1 as "The Peoples' Day" and the representative votes against the bill, then those voters in her district will know, without a doubt, that the people and the representative disagree.
And that's ok - there are many legitimate reasons to disagree, but either way, the representative must have a conversation and explain herself to the community.
And if that discussion isn't good enough, new candidates can step up to challenge the incumbent and argue, on the issues, why she should not be re-elected.
This is how communities can be heard and hold our representatives accountable.