HOUSTON - Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo will forego their annual State of the City and State of the County addresses with the Greater Houston Partnership, which has not taken a formal position on voting bills in Texas.
"This voting rights fight in Texas is the civil rights fight of our time. We simply cannot tacitly endorse GHP's refusal to even consider speaking out on this issue," Judge Hidalgo wrote on Facebook.
Mayor Turner and Judge Hidalgo discussed the decision during a press conference Wednesday afternoon, once again voicing opposition to Texas House Bill 6 and Texas Senate Bill 7.
"These bills attack Harris County specifically. They single out the people of my county, my constituents, and the community that the Greater Houston Partnership is supposed to help thrive," Judge Hidalgo said.
Among other items, Texas HB 6 would prohibit government officials from sending mail-in ballot applications to voters. In addition, it would require anyone providing help to a disabled voter at the polls to show an ID and share why they’re helping the disabled individual.
Texas SB 7 would require people to have legitimate reasons to vote by mail, get rid of drive-thru voting, and allow poll watchers to record video.
While some lawmakers call the proposed policies "voter integrity", Mayor Turner and Judge Hidalgo have called the bills "voter suppression."
"I want to thank the business community for stepping up, but I wish more would step up as well. Now, and not after the bills pass because it's now when we need people to stand up and not afterward," Mayor Turner said.
Mayor Turner says he will partner with Houston First this year to hold the State of the City address. Judge Hidalgo will announce details of her address at a later date.
The Greater Houston Partnership released this statement following the announcement:
"The Greater Houston Partnership is proud of the important work we do with the City of Houston and Harris County, and with Mayor Turner and Judge Hidalgo specifically, as we work together to create jobs and opportunity for all Houstonians.
We regret they have cancelled these long-standing events, which our members greatly enjoy.
As Mayor Turner and Judge Hidalgo expressed, they are disappointed that the Partnership has not joined them in taking a formal position against the voting bills being considered in Austin.
We trust that Mayor Turner and Judge Hidalgo respect that the Partnership has its own process by which our 140-member board takes policy positions on behalf of our 1,000 member companies, a process that requires a clear board consensus which does not exist on the legislation. As in this case, this process does not always lead to alignment with our elected officials."