A group of Greater Houston Partnership members is urging the region’s largest chamber of commerce to oppose voting bills in the Texas Legislature that critics say will make casting a ballot more difficult in Harris County, especially for residents of color.
The dispute comes weeks after several major Texas corporations denounced the proposed legislation and nearly a year after the GHP committed to fighting racial inequality in the wake of George Floyd’s killing by police.
The 10 business leaders sent a letter to GHP President Bob Harvey and Board Chair Amy Chronis on Monday morning with a proposed statement condemning Senate Bill 7 and House Bill 6 as currently written.
“New election legislation in Texas should expand, instead of limit, options for civic participation,” the statement reads in part. “Certain provisions of these bills are contrary to these objectives and should be eliminated or modified. We stand ready to work constructively to effect necessary changes in these bills.”
Harvey said in a statement that “we should be working towards an election system that offers every Texan unfettered access to the polls and instills confidence in everyone that the system is fair.” He declined to comment about ongoing discussions about the voting bills.
The letter’s signatories — Tony Chase, Paul Hobby, Carrin Patman, Gerald Smith, Donna Sims Wilson, Mia Mends, Wayne McConnell, Jim Postl, Claudia Aguirre and Ann Stern — declined to comment beyond the letter or did not respond.
You can see a copy of the letter here. This should be the sort of civic-engagement, good-government stuff that a group like the GHP is made for, but of course this is a partisan matter and they’ll be attacked for Taking A Side, which is why it’s necessary to remind them that not taking a side is in fact a choice that has consequences. I’m sure it was easier to be the Greater Houston Partnership when Republicans all looked and sounded like Ed Emmett, but those days are over. Being non-partisan doesn’t mean anything if it requires you to shy away from values you’ve claimed to hold dear in the past. What do you stand for, GHP? One way or another, you’re going to tell us.