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If you believe the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution gives you the right to free speech, think again. In Texas, of all places, political speech comes with a cost: registration and/or paying a fee to the state for the privilege of speaking.

In 1993, the Texas Legislature passed an “ethics” bill designed to eliminate “undue influence” in elections and to require the disclosure of those who paid to play on the political field. To show its serious intent, the Legislature also passed a lobby registration bill because it deemed it important to know who was getting paid to influence legislation and who was paying to influence legislation. Both laws had broad, sweeping definitions so as to leave no loopholes.

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