© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks at the annual Dallas Rifle Association (NRA) convention in Dallas, Texas, USA on May 4, 2018. REUTERS / Lucas Jackson / Photo File
By Julia Hart
(Reuters) – Texas lawmakers will discuss new voting restrictions on Saturday as part of a special legislative session called by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott after Democrats blocked earlier versions of the law.
Republican state senators introduced the latest version of the bill, now known as SB 1, on Thursday, when Democrats and voter advocates shouted to prevent people from examining the legislative process.
Members of Parliament will discuss SB 1 and its House counterpart early Saturday in committee hearings.
He suggested that the timing of the hearings could happen at the same time, and made it difficult for opponents to testify about those two measures, said Anthony Gutierrez, Common Cause director of the Texas Commonwealth Ordinary Guard.
In the regular May 30 legislature, Democratic lawmakers denied Republicans the required quorum to pass the original measures. It was a remarkable victory for Democrats, who have fought unsuccessfully in a number of similar laws passed since the beginning of the year in other Republican-controlled states.
The new proposals made by Republicans in Texas overlap significantly with the original versions by limiting the hours of early voting, adding new identification requirements to postal voting and empowering party observers. They don’t have a debatable limit on Sunday morning’s voting hours, some Republican lawmakers said they misread the original legislation.
At a press conference on Friday, Democratic state senators called a hearing on their vote reform counter-proposal. Their bill would extend early voting, allow online voter registration, allow voters to correct mistakes in postal voting, and allow survey monitors to receive training from the secretary of state.
Democratic Sen. Royce in West Texas said he hopes Republican legislative leaders will be willing to “make compromises” between SB 1 and his party’s replacement bill.
“Let me assure you, we will do everything in our power to hear about this bill,” he said, although he acknowledged that it would be unlikely that Republican leaders would want that.
Texas Senate Sen. Bryan Hughes, chairman of the Texas Senate Committee on State Affairs, who is hearing SB 1 on Saturday, did not respond Friday to find out if his committee would hear the Democrat bill.
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