Texas Birther Bill Debated By State Lawmakers

05/07/2013 02:55 pm ET | Updated May 08, 2013

Texas lawmakers debated a bill Monday that, if passed, would require presidential hopefuls to prove they are natural born U.S. citizens, Austin's KTBC reports.

Introduced in January by Texas State Rep. Bill Zedler (R), House Bill 650 would mandate that presidential and vice-presidential candidates file an official application proving that they are eligible to run for office. The proposed application would ask questions regarding birthplace and citizenship, and would be required for a candidate to appear on a ballot in Texas. The measure has drawn support from so-called birthers, who believe that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States.

Local birther Ed Sunderland appeared to testify on behalf of Zedler's bill.

"What's this bill is trying to do is level the playing field so there is a specific application for every candidate to get on the ballot," Sunderland told KTBC.

Two days after Zedler filed the bill in January, opponents filed a petition asking for the bill be pulled on the grounds that claims about Obama's birth certificate are invalid.

"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, written by Austin-based liberal advocacy group Progress Texas, states. "It's time to let it go. Texas has far more important problems than this."

Zedler responded to the petition, saying the bill isn't directed at Obama, but instead seeks to level the playing field for all candidates.

Currently, Independent and write-in candidates must prove their eligibility to the Texas secretary of state, while Democrats and Republicans register through their parties.

"I think there's a minimum standard of information that ought to be required of all candidates," Zedler told the Star-Telegram in January. "Do they not believe that a minimum standard ought to be held for everyone's access to the ballot?"

According to the Texas legislature's website, the bill was left pending in committee after the May 6 debates.

A similar bill was introduced in Arizona in 2011, but was vetoed by Gov. Jan Brewer (R) because of a controversial amendment that would allow candidates to present 'baptismal or circumcision certificates' in lieu of birth certificates. The bill was reintroduced in 2012 without the amendment, but still failed to pass.

The tables turned on the birther debate recently, as the validity of Sen. Ted Cruz's (R-Texas) eligibility for the presidency has come into question. Cruz was born in Canada, but is considered a natural-born citizen because his mother is a U.S. citizen.

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