Some minor changes, but the same basic idea.
The Texas House on Tuesday tentatively approved legislation to overhaul the state’s embattled voter identification law, moving it one step closer to Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk.
Senate Bill 5 would in several ways relax what some had called the nation’s most stringent ID requirements for voters — a response to court findings that the current law discriminated against black and Latino voters.
The 95-54 vote followed a six-hour debate that saw fierce pushback from Democrats, who argued the legislation wouldn’t go far enough to expand ballot access and contains provisions that might discourage some Texans from going to the polls. Democrats proposed a host of changes through amendments, a few of which surprisingly wriggled through.
Tuesday’s vote was part of flurry of last-minute efforts to salvage a bill that languished in the House for nearly two months, worrying Republican leaders who believed inaction would torpedo the state’s position — and bring down federal election oversight — in ongoing litigation over the current ID law.
Before it reaches Abbott, the bill must return to the Senate, which must weigh seven House amendments or request a conference committee to squabble over each chamber’s legislation. One amendment would allow voters to present IDs that had been expired for four years, rather than two years, as the Senate bill would. Another would require the secretary of state to study ways to boost the state’s perennially low voter turnout, and a third amendment would require the secretary of state’s office to reveal details — currently withheld — about its spending on voter education efforts.
Democrats said the amended SB 5 would not pass legal muster, arguing lawmakers should instead scrap all vestiges of the 2011 law.
“We’re in for a long, hot summer of having to defend this in court,” said Rep. Alfonso Nevárez, D-Eagle Pass. “And guess what? We’re going to lose again.”
See here for the background. I agree with Rep. Nevarez. Changing how voter ID is enforced now has no bearing on the intent of the law when it was passed. That can’t be fixed by amending the law. I grant, the state will have a better defense with SB5 on the books, but I’m skeptical and Judge Ramos ought to be as well. The Chron has more.