Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Senator Gallegos Returns to Austin to Block Voter ID Bill

The ailing senator from Harris County, Mario Gallegos, is back in Austin this week despite warnings from his doctors that he is jeopardizing his health to do so. After casting the decisive vote last week to block introduction of the voter ID bill, HB 218, Sen. Gallegos underwent a liver biopsy on Friday. Tests confirmed that his body is rejecting his new liver.

Because the senator's presence is needed to prevent re-introduction of the bill, Gallegos returned to the Senate floor yesterday. In an interview with the Star-Telegram, he lays out his reasons for returning, and gives Lt. Gov. Dewhurst a pass for last week's controversial vote:
Question: Why is this issue important enough to risk your health, and perhaps your life?
Answer: "I can remember my grandmother, who was born in Mexico and became a citizen. She would not be able to vote if this bill had been the law of the land.

"I haven't heard any complaints, at least in my district, that illegal aliens are voting. I haven't heard of a single instance since 1991, when I took office" as a state representative.

Q: The session ends May 28, but the last day to pass the bill without resorting to extraordinary parliamentary maneuvers is midnight Wednesday. Will you be in the Senate until then?
A: "They have a hospital bed here for me if I need it. It's a big enough issue for me that I have to be here. As long as I can stand, I'll be here.”

Q: If you are unable to remain at least available to return to the Senate floor, do you expect your Democratic colleagues to filibuster the bill until the clock runs out?
A: "We're pretty united on this. I'm going to try to buy them all the time I can."

Q: Do you agree that supporters of the bill make valid points?
A: "I respect their point of view. They are following polls that show their constituencies want this."

Q: Considering the status of your health, shouldn't the lieutenant governor just take the issue of voter ID off the table for the remainder of the session?
A: "No. If you have your votes, you move your bill. If I was Dewhurst, I'd do the same thing."

You can read further coverage of this story at Texas Kaos, Dos Centavos, and Eye on Williamson County.

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