Voter ID: As many expected, the U.S. Dept. of Justice has reversed its prior participation in the years-long litigation over the state’s Voter ID bill and “will not pursue its purpose claim at this time.” Further, DoJ asks the court to grant “voluntary dismissal of that claim without prejudice.”

Echoing last week’s joint filing with the state seeking postponement of the trial, DoJ argues that “the appropriate course is to await the Texas Legislature’s consideration of S.B. 5 before conducting any further proceedings in this case.”

The government’s filing erroneously states that all 31 senators have co-authored Senate Bill 5 by Sen. Joan Huffman (R-Houston), the proposed amendments to the Voter ID law that include provisions ordered by the courts to accept voters with reasonable impediments to obtaining a required photo ID. All 20 of the Republican members are signed up as co-authors, but no Democrat is listed as a co-author.

The trial to determine whether the state passed the 2011 law with discriminatory intent is scheduled to begin tomorrow (Tuesday) in Corpus Christi.

Meanwhile, Rep. Phil King (R-Weatherford) filed House Bill 2481, the House companion to Senate Bill 5. Elections Committee Chair Jodie Laubenberg (R-Wylie) and Reps. Charlie Geren (R-Fort Worth) and Tan Parker (R-Flower Mounds) are joint authors.

SD16: In a series of tweets, Rep. Jason Villalba (R-Dallas) described Sen. Don Huffines (R-Dallas) as “incapable of almost every duty he has.” Villalba has previously criticized Huffines on social media after the senator paid for mail pieces on behalf of Villalba’s unsuccessful primary challenger last year. Huffines’s campaign consultant Matt Langston tweeted back to Villalba asking if he was “declaring a run.”

Huffines had a heated exchange with students and parents visiting from Richardson, for which he has apologized for his “tone and delivery” in a statement that also described the meeting as an “ambush-style attack.”

Questionable Declarations: The Tarrant Co. elections office has forwarded 15 or so reasonable impediment declarations to the district attorney’s office for investigation. In most cases, the voter indicated on the form that they forgot their photo ID or left it elsewhere while showing a different form of non-photo identification. Voters who have a valid photo ID are required to show it to vote and cannot use the reasonable impediment declaration at the polls. Election officials said confusion over the law – by voters and poll workers – was likely to blame but decided to let the district attorney’s office make the call as to whether prosecution is warranted.

San Angelo: Council member Bill Richardson resigned over the weekend following racially charged comments aimed at Hispanic/Latino police officers. Richardson’s term does not end until 2019. The council is scheduled to meet Thursday to accept Richardson’s resignation and either appoint a new council member (requiring a unanimous vote) or call a special election to fill his term. A special election would likely occur May 6 to concur with the elections for mayor and other council seats on the ballot.

©2017 Texas Election Source LLC