On the heels of Liberty in Action’s sweeping wins in the primary election all the way down the ticket, the city of Kerrville just voted to pass an ordinance taking direct aim at our ability to hand out our voter guides, whether through block walking or at the polls. Today, it’s commonly called ‘law fare.’ It’s when government weaponizes law enforcement and the courts to engage in political persecution of their enemies, and it’s happening right here in our small haven in the hill country. 

Here’s what the ordinance says

Solicitation on public property:

On Page 3, Sec. 30-183. –

(a) It is unlawful for any person to peddle, hawk, sell, solicit, distribute, or take orders for any services, wares, merchandise, or goods, including magazines, encyclopedias, tools, photographs, flowers, candy, or plants on the streets, street rights-of-way, or medians of the City. This prohibition shall apply to and include any institution or group organized for a political, religious, or charitable purpose, or individuals engaging in such activities on behalf of any such institution or group.

(b) No permit provided for herein shall be issued for selling in the above manner.

(c) An exception applies to vendors authorized to sell within the City’s parks and recreational areas pursuant to permission granted by the City Manager, authorized by law, or where similarly authorized by other public entities.

This ordinance could apply to soliciting a vote and distributing a voter guide, or street evangelism or things like handing out a religious tract or flyer for Easter services. It’s clearly a direct violation of our First Amendment right of political and religious speech. While the part that would have effectively outlawed block walking as well was removed (which was in an earlier version), the chilling effect of the ordinance is already palatable as canvassers who helped in the primary have already told some of our candidates they’re not interested in block walking now that the ordinance has passed out of fear of being fined and arrested for a misdemeanor. You read that right. The Kerrville City Council is criminalizing free speech. This isn’t New York, California, or even Austin, Texas. This is KERRVILLE, that votes 86% Republican in some races, and your city council just voted to criminalize free speech, specifically religious and political speech (in a city filled with churches!).

Penalty for violation:

On Page 6, Sec. 30-181 –

(a) Any person, firm, partnership, corporation, association, agent, or employee thereof who violates any of the provisions of this article shall be

guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined in an amount not less than $50.00 nor more than $500.00 for each offense. Each

and every hour that such violation shall continue shall be deemed to constitute a separate offense.

The city manager and city attorney made clear that any pamphleting on the city sidewalks and rights of way (where our own church engages in street evangelism) would be vigorously enforced. In fact, the next item on the city council agenda last week was taking action to ensure city police would actively enforce the new ordinance and be deployed vigorously to catch offenders. Horrors, the audacity of the peasants to exercise free speech in Biden’s America!

Perhaps even worse, the city goes out of its way to restrict specifically religious and political speech — the very type of speech the First Amendment was designed to protect. It can also affect such activity in city parks or other city property (like the Callioux, especially during voting) if you’re on sidewalks or anything they consider a median or city right of way (which captures more than the streets and sidewalks themselves, but also stretches of greenbelts and land one either side of the road or sidewalk). 

Polling locations within city limits during voting are considered city property, so this ordinance would apply. Certain members of the establishment already tried calling the sheriff on us throughout early voting and on election day to use law enforcement to run us off. They tried their hardest to catch us doing something wrong so they could splash our mug shots across the newspaper, and most importantly, stop us from reaching voters. But to no avail.

Here are two news stories outside of Kerrville on the issue.

Kerrville Considers New Solicitation Ordinance, Raising Concerns Over Free Speech

Kerrville’s Proposed Anti-solicitation Law Could Violate First Amendment

(This second article got the times for the proposed limitation on canvassing wrong, which is 8 PM – 8 AM, not 8 AM – 8 PM)

Unfortunately, the newspapers in Kerrville are consistently too error prone and biased to be considered accurate. The articles the Community Journal just did on the elections were full of inaccuracies (several were attributed to LIA, and there were other glaring factual errors). This has happened so many times, we no longer consider them credible. We will not give them comment anymore. Ditto for Kerrville Daily Times. So please take what you read in the local paper with a grain of salt.

In the meantime, expect lawsuits to start flying to challenge this obviously unconstitutional ordinance. Though there’s been talk of updating the peddlers and solicitors section of the city code for some time, it’s no coincidence that they started pulling it off the shelf as soon as LIA and our army of dedicated blocks walkers started blanketing Kerrville with over 5,000 of our voter guides. Then they went apoplectic when we mailed out 5,000 more, and they about had heart attacks when we handed them out to thousands of voters throughout early voting and on election day. Imagine the gnashing of teeth that occurred on election night when they saw how badly we trounced them! 

Make no mistake, this is why they’re resorting to lawfare to persecute us and to try and stop us for reaching voters with the truth (we out the RINOs!). But thankfully, the First Amendment is robust and voraciously protects political and religious speech, despite the relentless efforts by tyrants to abridge or crush it. Stay tuned!