Posting of Political Reports Online
Agenda Item No. 16 -- June 27, 2001, Meeting -- ITEM PASSED
AN ORDINANCE AMENDING ARTICLE IV, CHAPTER 18, CODE OF ORDINANCES, HOUSTON, TEXAS, TO PROVIDE FOR POSTING ON THE INTERNET OF POLITICAL REPORTS, INCLUDING CANDIDATE / OFFICEHOLDER CAMPAIGN FINANCE REPORTS AND OTHER REPORTS OF SPECIFIC-PURPOSE COMMITTEES; CONTAINING FINDINGS AND OTHER PROVISIONS RELATING TO THE FOREGOING SUBJECT; PROVIDING AN EFFECTIVE DATE; PROVIDING FOR SEVERABILITY; AND DECLARING AN EMERGENCY.
WHEREAS, Section 254.036 of the Texas Election Code ("the Election Code") requires that each political report, including but not limited to candidate/officeholder campaign finance reports and reports of specific-purpose committees, required to be filed with an authority other than the Texas Ethics Commission ("the Commission") be on a form prescribed by the Commission and written in black ink or typed with black typewriter ribbon J unless the report is a computer printout; and
WHEREAS, Sections 252.005(3), 252.006,252.007(3), 254.066 and 254.097 of Title 15 of the Election Code require that campaign treasurer appointments and other political reports be filed with the secretary of the governing body of a political subdivision; and
WHEREAS, the City Council of the City of Houston, Texas, has determined that campaign finance information required to be reported and filed in the Office of the City Secretary pursuant to Title 15 of the Texas Election Code, as amended, should also be accessible to the public to the greatest extent possible; and
WHEREAS, the City Council has determined that it is in the public interest to provide for the prom pt posting on the Internet of campaign finance information contained in political reports filed in the office of the City Secretary;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT ORDAINED BY THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF HOUSTON, TEXAS:
Section 1. That the findings contained in the preamble of this Ordinance are determined to be true and correct and are hereby adopted as a part of this Ordinance.
Section 2. That Article IV, Chapter 18, of the Code of Ordinances, Houston, Texas, is hereby amended by adding a new Section 18-40, to read as follows:
"Sec. 18-40. Internet posting of candidate/officeholder campaign finance reports.
(a) The city secretary shall forward copies of all political reports or other documents filed in the office of the city secretary pursuant to Title 15, Texas Election Code to the director of finance and administration for posting on the city's web site. Any portions of such reports required by law to be removed by the Texas Ethics Commission for purposes of posting on the Internet shall in like manner be removed by the director of finance a nd ad ministration for purposes of the city's posting on the Internet.
(b) All information removed for purposes of the city's internet posting shall remain available for public inspection on the report or document maintained in the office of the city secretary, but may not be made available electronically unless the corresponding information on reports filed with the Texas Ethics Commission is made available electronically at the office of the Commission.
(c) Except as provided by subsection (d) below, the director of Finance and Administration shall make each report filed with the city secretary under Title 15, Texas Election Code, available to the public on the Internet not later than the second business day after the date the report is filed.
(d) Except as otherwise provided by this subsection, the director of Finance and Administration may not make a report filed with the city secretary under Title 15, Texas Election Code, for a reporting deadline by any candidate for a particular office or by a specific-purpose committee for supporting or opposing only one candidate for a particular office available to the public on the Internet until each candidate for that office and each specific-purpose committee for supporting or opposing only one candidate for that office has filed a report for that filing deadline. Regardless of whether each candidate for a particular office and each specific-purpose committee for supporting or opposing only one candidate for that office has filed a report for a filing deadline, the director of Finance and Administration shall make each report in connection with that office available on the Internet on:
- (1) the 21st day after the date of the filing deadline, for a report other than a report required to be filed under Section 254.064(c), Texas Election Code; or
- (2) the fourth day after the date of the filing deadline, for a report required to be filed under Section 254.064(c), Texas Election Code.
(e) The access allowed by this section to reports is in addition to the public's access to the information through other electronic or print distribution of the information."
Section 3. The City Council officially finds, determines, recites and declares that a sufficient written notice of the date, hour; place and subject of this meeting of the City Council was posted at a place convenient to the public at the City Hall of the City for the time required by law preceding this meeting, as required by the Open Meetings Law, Chapter 551, Texas Government Code; and that this meeting has been open to the public as required by law at all times during which this Ordinance and the subject matter thereof has been discussed, considered and formally acted upon. The City Council further ratifies, approves and confirms such written notice and the contents and posting thereof.
Section 4. If any provision, section, subsection, sentence, clause, or phrase of this Ordnance, or its application to any person or set of circumstances is for any reason held to be unconstitutional, void or invalid, the validity of the remaining portions of this Ordinance or their application to other persons or sets of circumstances shall not be affected thereby, it being the intent of the City Council in adopting this Ordinance that no portion hereof or provision or regulation contained herein shall become inoperative or fail by reason of any unconstitutionality, voidness or invalidity of any other portion hereon, and all provisions of this Ordinance are declared to be severable for that purpose.
Section 5. There exists a public emergency requiring that this Ordinance be passed finally on the date of its introduction as requested in writing by the Mayor; therefore, this Ordinance shall be passed finally on such date and shall take effect immediately upon its passage and approval by the Mayor; however, in the event that the Mayor fails to sign this Ordinance, within 5 days after its passage and adoption, it shall take effect in accordance with Article VI, Section 6, Houston City Charter.