May 28, 2005
Filibuster averted for now

Sen. Rodney Ellis' threatened filibuster against the Denny Amendment to SB89 was averted late last night thanks to a little deft maneuvering by Sen. Letitia Van de Putte.

Senate Democrats were poised late Friday to start a filibuster on the bill at midnight. But before it started, Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, exercised a Senate rule that prevents a bill from carrying unrelated subjects.

The original Senate bill dealt with the transportation code and information stored on the magnetic strip on driver's licenses. The voter ID language, tacked on by the House, affected the state election code.

The Republican sponsor of the measure, Kip Averitt of Waco, was forced to pull the bill down and the Senate instead appointed a conference committee to negotiate differences with the House over the weekend.

With the session ending Monday, the move leaves Republicans little time to push the voter ID restrictions through.


Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, who had napped earlier during the day, came to the chamber in tennis shoes and wearing a catheter as Senate filibuster rules would not have allowed him to interrupt his speech for bathroom breaks.

To guarantee the bill would die, opponents would have had to talk on the bill until Monday. The more realistic goal was to frustrate Republicans until they gave up on the bill since several big issues, including a new school finance plan, are still unresolved with just three days left in the session.

Averitt, who will chair the Senate conference committee, said he wasn't ready to completely give up on the voter ID language.

"I'd like to see if we could come up with a plan to further install confidence in our electoral process," he said.

Ellis said he "reserves the right" to still filibuster if the language doesn't come out. Ellis won a significant battle over the bill simply by forcing the delay.

"The clock is ticking," Ellis said. "It clearly goes to the place a lot of bills go to die."

Postcards from the Lege has more. With there still being no agreement on school finance and tax reform, there's a good chance this is once again dead. My thanks to Sens. Ellis and Van de Putte for their good work.

Further reading: Othniel suggests that the Denny proposal would fail a legal challenge on 26th Amendment grounds.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on May 28, 2005 to That's our Lege | TrackBack