The conference committee report (PDF) for the session’s most significant election bill was filed today (Saturday) and contains provisions that were not in any prior versions. The report was signed by all seven Republicans. None of the three Democrats agreed to it.
Senate Bill 7 by Sen. Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola) was dramatically altered by the House when Rep. Briscoe Cain (R-Deer Park) substituted his House Bill 6 for it and 18 amendments were added on the floor. The Senate declined to accept the House version, so the bill went to a conference committee to resolve the differences. Typically, a conference report accepts provisions that were in both chambers’ versions, takes either chamber’s version where they differed or found some middle ground between the chambers’ conflicting versions of a provision.
In this case, provisions from neither bill were included as the committee went “outside the bounds” of their charge. Indeed, the section-by-section analysis provided by Texas Legislative Counsel indicates that the “committee may have exceeded limitations imposed on its jurisdiction” but notes that the presiding officers of each chamber have sole discretion to make this determination.
In Section 1 of the conference committee report, the Legislature finds that “fraud in elections threatens the stability of a constitutional democracy by undermining public confidence in the legitimacy of public officers chosen by election.” This is a more provocative statement than what was contained in the House version (“Minimizing the potential for fraud in elections and enhancing the opportunities to vote strengthen our constitutional democracy and provide for wide-scale confidence in elections.”). The Senate version contained no legislative findings.
No credible evidence of widespread fraud has been presented with respect to Texas elections or the 2020 presidential election.
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