AUSTIN, Texas — The second special session of the Texas Legislature started Saturday, but the House of Representatives did not have enough lawmakers present to take any action. This is because many Democrats are in D.C. to prevent the passage of an election reform bill.
The Democrats’ departure led to the first special session ending without any bills getting to the governor's desk. They are in D.C. to lobby for federal voting rights legislation.
"If we get some sort of bill passed at the national level, then that would supersede whatever happens at the state level,” said Democratic State Rep. Vikki Goodwin (Austin). “It would ensure that we aren't making it more difficult for voters to access the ballot."
With the majority of the Democrats absent on the first day, the House is at a standstill, leaving Republicans frustrated.
"It was a little rough the last month to show up here every day, ready to do the people's work, ready to help our retired teachers, ready to help our foster kids, and we weren't able to do that,” said Republican State Rep. Jim Murphy of Houston. “Now we have another chance, and it's my hope, my expectation, that these people will follow their oath of office, and come and do the work."
The Democrats say their Republican colleagues will not compromise on the election bill, so they're doing what they can to fight.
"We had an over a 24-hour hearing, and the Democrats proposed amendments to fix some of the issues that we saw as being the worst pieces of the bill. And, again, the Republicans weren't willing to accept any of those amendments,” said State Rep. Goodwin.
Rep. Goodwin says she doesn't know when she will come back to Texas, but Republican lawmakers believe there will be a quorum present when the House reconvenes on Monday.
"The governor is resolute about getting this work done, everything from the election integrity bill to the financial matters,” explained State Rep. Murphy. “And he's going to call us back. And I think that's a very important message for all of us to understand that you can delay things, but you can't prevent things. So you might as well come and do the work."
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