The Texas House Elections Committee will hold a hearing on HB 418 on March 7, Monday. This is the bill that imposes filing fees on candidates who get on the ballot by petition, or by convention. Currently, only candidates running in a partisan primary pay filing fees. No party other than the Democratic or Republican Parties has ever had a primary that was paid for by Texas taxpayers, except for La Raza Unida in the 1970’s.
The purpose of the filing fees in primaries is to prevent the primary ballot from being too crowded. No one needs a petition to get on a partisan primary ballot, so the fees are the only protection against overly-crowded primary ballots. That rationale for the fees does not apply to the general election. Parties that nominate by convention (such as the Libertarian and Green Parties) pay for their own conventions, and there is no concern about crowded ballots at a convention. The general election ballot is never crowded in Texas because ballot access for independent candidates and new political parties is so difficult. When the Green Party qualified in Texas in 2010, the petition to get it on the ballot cost over $500,000.
Texas does occasionally have crowded ballots in special elections, because in special elections, no one needs a petition to get on the ballot. The sponsor of HB 418 is Leo Berman (R-Tyler).