Sunday, May 20, 2007

Texas Voter ID Bill in Limbo

After last week's drama (reported here) over the Texas voter ID bill, questions remain as to whether Lt. Gov. Dewhurst will attempt passage this week.

Ailing Sen. Mario Gallegos' absence from the Capitol leaves his fellow Democratic state senators one vote shy of a procedural tool they can use to block legislation.

Republicans did not take advantage of the situation Friday to force a vote on a contentious bill that would require voters to present identification, which Democrats have blocked.

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who presides over the Senate, said senators told him they "didn't want to take it up today out of respect for Senator Gallegos." But he was noncommittal about his plans for next week, saying he believes a vast majority of Texans support the idea.

"We'll see," he said. "I would like to see it passed."

Democrats are on high alert for the last week of the session.

Democrats won't disclose how they will respond if Dewhurst brings the voter ID bill up for debate.

Options could include breaking quorum or filibustering, either of which would kill other legislation in the waning days of the session.

"I'm not going to expose our strategy," said Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, chair of the Senate Democratic Caucus. "We're looking at this on a day-by-day situation. Certainly, the Senate realizes that we have really important bills and work that needs to get done."

She warned that bringing up the voter ID bill would distract from the Senate's need to finish work on budget, transportation, border security and air quality bills.

It is not known whether Gallegos is out for the remainder of the session.

No comments: