Senator Ellis Press Release

For Immediate Release
May 22, 2009
Contact: Jeremy Warren, (512) 463-0113

Senate Passes Resolution Condemning Poll Tax
HJR 39 post-ratifies the 24th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

The Texas Senate today passed HJR 39, putting Texas on official record as supporting the 24th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution of the United States, which states that a person's right to vote cannot be abridged or denied for failure to pay a poll tax or any other tax. As is well known, the poll tax was strategically aimed at suppressing the voter participation of minorities, women, and the poor.

"This is an important day for Texas," said Ellis. "It may be 40 years later, but it is not too late for Texas to stand up and say that suppressing the voting rights of minorities, women and the poor was an injustice. I do find it ironic that, the same week Texas finally made that statement, the House is poised to debate Voter ID legislation which could have much the same impact. I hope the House listens to its better angels and keeps a future legislature from having to pass a resolution like the one we did today."

Championed by President John F. Kennedy, and passed under President Lyndon B. Johnson, the 24th Amendment was fully ratified by the states in 1964. At that time, Texas was one of only five states still levying a poll tax and one of only twelve states not to ratify the Amendment.

Other States which did not initially ratify the 24th Amendment, such as Alabama, Virginia and North Carolina, have subsequently post-ratified the Amendment as a symbolic gesture. Texas should follow and extend its hand in this symbolic gesture of post-ratifying the 24th Amendment to the United States Constitution.

With the passage of HJR 39, the Texas Secretary of State will now notify the archivist of the United States of the resolution and forward official copies of the resolution to Texas U.S. Senators and Representatives, as well as the U.S. Vice President and the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, with request it be printed in full in the congressional record.