Texas Senate Bill Would Bar Ex-Felons From Seeking Office

Texas Capitol Building
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By NewsRadio 1080 KRLD

AUSTIN (1080 KRLD) - Under legislation proposed by Republican Sen. Pat Fallon of Prosper, an ex-felon would only be able to run for a political office if they have been pardoned. 

The current state law says they can run if they have been released from "resulting disabilities."

Fallon's bill came in response to a run for Austin City Council last year by ex-felon Lewis Conway Jr. who argued that since he had served his time and was again able to vote, he had been released from those "resulting disabilities."  He was allowed to remain on the ballot.

Conway says this bill is not so much an attack on him, but it's an "attack on 4.7 million Texans who have criminal justice involvement.  And it's also an attack on the constitution.  The constitution gives us exclusive rights regardless of our conviction status to run for president and to run for congress."

He says that means the state constitution is trying to supercede the US constitution. 

He adds pardons are few and far between and the justice system disproportionately impacts men of color, such as himself.

Conway says this is more about people having served their time, it's a matter of when do their sentences end.  "When are we going to allow the same folks who vote and pay taxes to write the policies that are landing on the people who vote and pay taxes?"

People convicted of misdemeanors face no such consequences. 

State representative Ron Reynolds, a Democrat from Missouri City and personal injury attorney was convicted of illegally soliciting clients in 2015. He was in office then and won afterwards. He served four months on a one year sentence and was released from jail at the at the beginning of the year in time to go to Austin for the start of the legislative session.