Wednesday, May 27, 2009 Yesterday (Tuesday, May 26) on the floor of the Senate a proposed constitutional amendment – HJR 102 by Sen. Juan Hinojosa (House sponsor: Rep. Richard Raymond) – that would put into the Texas Constitution the right of the public to access and use public beaches (currently in statute as the “Open Beaches Act”) passed on “second reading” by a vote of 20-11.
Sounds good, right?
No, not exactly. In order for the proposed constitutional amendment to go to the voters, it must get a 2/3 vote of both houses of the Texas Legislature. That means that 21 Senators must vote for the bill today (Wednesday, May 27) on “third reading” (also known as “final passage”). Also, in order to bring HJR 102 back up for consideration today, Sen. Hinojosa must ask for a suspension of the rules to take up and consider HJR 102, and that also requires a 2/3 vote.
The Sierra Club and other groups such as the Surfrider Foundation and Public Citizen support this proposed constitutional amendment. While we acknowledge that the protection of public access to our state’s beaches is already in law in the Open Beaches Act, putting that protection into the Texas Constitution would give it a more permanent protection and prevent a simple majority of legislators in both houses from curbing that protection in the future.
If you want to strengthen the protection of the public’s right to access and use public beaches, please contact your State Senator IMMEDIATELY in support of HJR 102 (Today is the last day for the Senate to consider bills and joint resolutions on the calendar this session.)
Yesterday all 12 Democrats and eight Republican senators voted for HJR 102. The eleven Republican senators who voted against HJR 102 were Deuell, Duncan, Estes, Fraser, Harris, Jackson, Nelson, Ogden, Patrick, Shapiro, and Williams.
If you live in the district of one of those senators, your communication in support of HJR 102 would be especially important. Please call their offices right away and stress the importance of their support for HJR 102.
[Note: The Texas House of Representatives passed HJR 102 on a 140-1 vote.]