Petition asks Arlington lawmaker to pull 'birther' bill

Posted Friday, Jan. 25, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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State Rep. Bill Zedler wants to make sure that any candidate running for president of the United States meets the qualifications.

And he wants proof before those candidates end up on the Texas ballot that they meet the constitutional requirements to hold that office -- such as being born in the U.S. and living in the country for at least 14 years.

Opponents of Zedler's bill began a petition Friday alleging that the measure is an unnecessary revival of concerns that President Barack Obama wasn't born in the United States. They are calling on the Arlington Republican to withdraw his bill.

"You may be one of the last 15 people on the planet (more or less) who thinks President Obama was not born in America," the petition by Progress Texas, an Austin-based liberal advocacy group, states. "It's time to let it go. Texas has far more important problems than this."

Zedler said his bill has nothing to do with Obama.

He said it came to his attention last year that Independent and write-in candidates have to provide information proving their eligibility to run to the Texas Secretary of State's office, but Republicans and Democrats don't provide that same information to the state because they register through their parties. So he filed House Bill 650 to make sure all candidates file the same information with the state.

"I think there's a minimum standard of information that ought to be required of all candidates," Zedler said.

"I see no reason to pull [this bill] down," he said. "Do they not believe that a minimum standard ought to be held for everyone's access to the ballot?"

Last year, continuing speculation that Obama was born in Kenya came to a head when the president released his birth certificate and addressed the issue during a press briefing.

"We've had every official in Hawaii, Democrat and Republican, every news outlet that has investigated this, confirm that, yes, in fact, I was born in Hawaii, August 4, 1961, in Kapiolani Hospital," he said at the time. "We've posted the certification that is given by the state of Hawaii on the Internet for everybody to see. ... And yet this thing just keeps on going."

The online petition calling on Zedler to withdraw the bill had drawn more than 2,800 signatures by midafternoon Friday.

"Rep. Zedler should withdraw House Bill 650 immediately," said Phillip Martin, political director for Progress Texas. "If he doesn't, Speaker Joe Straus should refuse to refer the Birther Bill to a committee, unless he believes there's merit in spending lawmakers' time and taxpayer dollars on a fringe debate that does nothing to improve our public schools, expand our healthcare, or invest in the future of Texas."

Many comments posted on the online petition also alluded to a connection between the bill and Obama.

"Let it go dude," wrote David Anderson of Denton.

Anna M. Tinsley, 817-390-7610

Twitter: @annatinsley

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