What You Need To Know:
After weeks of speculation and some conversation, Texas businesses are joining together to voice their displeasure with Texas state politicians and the restrictive voting bills working their way through the current legislative session.
One coalition, Fair Elections Texas, is made up of several dozen corporations, including American Airlines, Hewlett-Packard, Dell and Microsoft. While the group did not openly criticize the two voting bills, in a letter released Tuesday, it stated opposition to “any changes that would restrict eligible voters’ access to the ballot.”
Former United States trade representative and former mayor of Dallas, Ron Kirk, helped organize the Fair Elections Texas effort.
In part, the letter stated, “We stand together, as a nonpartisan coalition, calling on all elected leaders in Texas to support reforms that make democracy more accessible and oppose any changes that would restrict eligible voters’ access to the ballot. We urge business and civic leaders to join us as we call upon lawmakers to uphold our ever elusive core democratic principle: equality.”
A second letter, signed by over 100 Houston executives, took a stronger stand against proposed legislation, comparing the bills to “voter suppression.” The Houston group is described as “a breakaway faction of the Greater Houston Partnership, a citywide chamber of commerce.”
According to the New York Times, the letter signed by members of the Greater Houston Partnership came after many members of the group, including several prominent Black executives, grew frustrated with the organization’s tepid response to the voting issue.
In part, a draft of the letter addressed to Dade Phelan, the Republican speaker of the Texas House of Representatives, read, “Voter suppression is raising barriers to people’s most fundamental rights to participate in our democracy. There has been significant discussion of the evidence of voter suppression in the two omnibus voting rights bills, H.B. 6 and S.B. 7, in addition to dozens of smaller bills with similar aims.”
Why We Need To Know:
As Republican politicians push forward with restrictive voting measures in states across the country, many state and national Republicans are pushing back against businesses and corporations opposed to the new voting laws. Senator minority leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, told chief executives to “stay out of politics.” And Republican Senators Ted Cruz, of Texas, and Rick Scott, of Florida, have criticized corporations, accusing them of supporting the Democratic agenda.
However, as David Najjab, the director of institutional partnerships at Gearbox, a video game company with headquarters in Frisco, Texas said, “…if need be, we might have to look other places for expansion. Restrictions on voting in Texas could harm that expansion,” he noted. “Not that we’d leave — we’re still here, he said. “But it does make it difficult for recruitment.”
That’s not good business in Texas, or anywhere else in America.