Representative Joe Moody (D-El Paso), speaker pro tempore of the Texas House of Representatives, has been named “Lawmaker of the Year” by the Freedom of Information Foundation.
“His bipartisan, measured approach to both issues showed why lawmakers from both sides of the aisle respect his leadership,” said Laura Prather, who co-chairs the FOI Foundation’s legislative committee. “Texas citizens are fortunate to have Joe Moody as a public servant and believer in the First Amendment and government transparency.”
The foundation highlighted Speaker Moody’s work during the 86th Legislative Session to close loopholes in the Public Information Act and protect the free speech rights of Texans.
Although he had a hand in a number of free information measures, his most significant was H.B. 147, which was aimed at closing the “dead suspects” loophole that has been exploited to keep government records related to most deaths during police actions or while a person is in custody secret forever.
Moody also played an instrumental role in the passage of H.B. 2730, which he joint-authored with Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence Chairman Jeff Leach (R-Plano). The bill is the first-ever major revision to Texas’s “Anti-SLAPP” law, a civil procedure tool that protects Texas residents from frivolous lawsuits based on the exercise of their First Amendment rights.
For his part, Moody highlighted the challenges to come: “I’m honored by this recognition and very fortunate to be able to work on the transparency issues I’m so passionate about. What I took away from this past session, though, was a sense of how much we have left to do as well as the powerful institutional obstacles in the way. I’m committed to that work, and I’ll be at the forefront of the fight next session.”
The award will be formally presented on September 20, 2019 at the John Henry Faulk Awards Luncheon during the FOI Foundation’s Bernard and Audre Rapoport State Conference in Austin.