The House gave preliminary approval to a bill that largely conforms the state’s Voter ID law to a court decision requiring a process for people to vote who lack an acceptable form of identification. The 95-54, almost party-line vote capped a lengthy debate over the bill and 30 proposed amendments. Rep. Roland Gutierrez (D-San Antonio) was the lone Democrat to vote shown voting for the bill, but he later placed a statement in the House Journal saying he intended to vote no.

Rep. Phil King

Rep. Phil

Rep. Phil King (R-Weatherford) accepted seven amendments, including an amendment by Rep. Joe Moody (D-El Paso) to decrease the penalty for falsely filling out a declaration of reasonable impediment to a Class A misdemeanor from a third-degree felony. Other accepted amendments included:

  • An amendment by Rep. Chris Turner (D-Arlington) clarifying that an election officer may not refuse to accept documentation if the address differs from what is on the voter list;
  • An amendment by Rep. Lina Ortega (D-El Paso) directing the Secretary of State to develop and implement a voter turnout strategic plan;
  • An amendment by Rep. Helen Giddings (D-Dallas) extending the period for which an expired ID may be accepted to four years from two years;
  • An amendment by Rep. Craig Goldman (R-Fort Worth) clarifying that a passport card is an accepted photo identification.

King also accepted an amendment from Rep. Justin Rodriguez (D-San Antonio) that would require the Secretary of State to prepare a biennial report on expenditures for its voter education programs. The state has previously refused to disclose how voter education funds were spent to publicize changes to the Voter ID rules ordered by the courts.

Gov. Greg Abbott declared Senate Bill 5 by Sen. Joan Huffman (R-Houston) an emergency matter on Sunday, enabling it to leapfrog other bills already on the House calendar on the last day that the House may consider Senate bills on second reading (save for Local and Consent bills).

Once the bill receives final House approval, it must return to the Senate for further action. If the Senate does not concur in House amendments, then a conference committee would have to be appointed to work out the differences between the chambers.

This post was updated May 25 to reflect Gutierrez’s statement in the House Journal.

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