Decision on HERO repeal to come next week

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Houston city officials expect to know next week if opponents of the equal rights ordinance gathered enough signatures to put the measure up for a public vote in November.

The update came Friday as city officials, including City Attorney David Feldman, updated council members on the petitions, which were submitted on July 3. Opponents need 17,269 of the more than 50,000 signatures to be verified for the public vote to move forward.

 

On Friday, the council was told that Feldman's office, along with City Secretary Anna Russell, must review the petitions to verify that signatures are Houston voters and that the people who collected them are also Houston voters.

 

Feldman told the council that the petition effort put enforcement of the ordinance on hold.

 

The city has a 30-day window to complete verification of the petition signatures. If the signatures are valid, the council can vote to repeal the ordinance or put it before voters. If the petition effort fails, Feldman said the ordinance becomes law and no additional petitions can be filed against it. Opponents could file a court challenge.

But the petition verification process is tedious.

 

Mayor Annise Parker blasted the petition effort and the “strange obsession” of opponents to undo it during a July 3 press conference. On Saturday, supporters of the ordinance host a training session for volunteers to review the petitions.

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