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As the bill author's statement of intent explains:
"Until 2015, candidates for various judicial offices were required to submit a petition containing 250 signatures in addition to the filing fee or, if a candidate submitted a petition in lieu of the filing fee, 250 additional signatures. A bill last session removed that requirement."
SB 44 would reinstate those signature requirements for counties with a population of more than 1.5 million people. which includes Harris, Dallas, Tarrant, and Bexar counties.