By Sahar Chmais
UPDATE: Gov. Greg Abbott vowed to arrest the legislators who left the state to break quorum on July 12.
“As soon as they come back in the state of Texas, they will be arrested, they will be cabined inside the Texas capitol until they get their job done,” Abbott said.
Democrats broke quorum and left the state of Texas in a move to stop the bills prioritized by Gov. Greg Abbott in the special session.
State legislators are taking these issues to Washington D.C., according to State Rep. Erin Zwiener (D-Driftwood).
“The decision to leave the state was not an easy one,” Zwiener said, “but I know that this is the only way to keep the harmful legislation that Governor Abbott has prioritized for the special session from passing. I do not take this move lightly, and it is with a heavy heart that I leave my community – but I know that this is necessary to do right by them. The freedom to vote is sacred.”
Some of the priority bills legislators did not want passing include a bill that will disallow transgender students from competing in teams of the opposite sex they were born into, a bill that would limit access to voting and a bill that would further restrict abortion access in Texas.
“Texans came out in droves this weekend to signal their support for the freedom to vote – and their opposition to this legislation,” said Taylor Bounds, Zwiener’s communications director. “In a 23-hour hearing, the committee heard the testimony of hundreds and still chose to move this legislation forward. Everyday Texans – House Democrats included – are doing everything they can to preserve the freedom to vote. We need Congress to act now.”
Abbott said Democrats must put their partisan politics aside to do the job they were elected for. Some bills the governor cited that the legislators are abandoning include property tax relief, funding to support law enforcement in high-crime areas, funding for children in foster care and funding for retired teachers.
“Texas Democrats’ decision to break a quorum of the Texas Legislature and abandon the Texas State Capitol inflicts harm on the very Texans who elected them to serve,” Abbott said. “As they fly across the country on cushy private planes, they leave undone issues that can help their districts and our state.”
This is not the first time Democrats broke quorum in the 87th Legislative Session over bills restricting access to voting.
House Bill 3 and Senate Bill 1 are the omnibus bills Democrats refuse to vote on. Provisions in these bills include requiring voter identifications for mail-in ballots, prohibiting drive-through early voting and extended hours of early voting. Additionally, they will impose a higher standard of eligibility for voting by mail on the ground of disability, prohibit pre-filling of any portion of information on voter registration applications and more.