Texas Senate seeks to end quorum breaks after House Democrats flee state

With the Texas legislature locked in a weeks-long stalemate over a GOP-backed election bill, Republicans in the state’s Senate are pursuing legislation that would effectively prevent quorum breaks from interrupting proceedings in the future.

More than 50 Texas House Democrats fled the state when Gov. Greg Abbott called the first of two special sessions this summer, stalling consideration of the election bill. At least 100 lawmakers must be present in the House to reach a quorum and allow state business to proceed.

A Texas Senate committee approved Senate Joint Resolution 1, a Republican-backed initiative that would ask voters to amend the state constitution and lower the threshold required to reach a quorum. If successful, the resolution would allow the legislature to conduct business with a simple majority of lawmakers present.

„Our state cannot allow a minority of lawmakers to wield such a disproportionate power so as to render the Texas Legislature incapable of responding to our state’s needs,“ Republican Texas Sen. Brian Birdwell said during a public hearing Monday.

TEXAS SUPREME COURT ALLOWS FOR ARREST OF DEMOCRATS WHO DON’T SHOW UP TO LEGISLATURE

The resolution would need to secure support from at least two-thirds of the Texas House and Senate to advance for voter consideration. To reach that threshold, at least three Senate Democrats and 18 House Democrats would have to vote in favor. 

The Austin American-Statesman was first to report on the resolution.

Abbott convened a second special session last weekend after the first session failed. Roughly two dozen of the Texas Democrats who traveled to Washington D.C. remain in the nation’s capital. The governor has vowed to call special sessions until the election bill is passed.

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Some Democratic lawmakers returned to the state this week after a district court judge granted a temporary restraining order barring Abbott from ordering their arrest. But the Texas Supreme Court overturned the restraining order on Tuesday after a petition by Abbott and House Speaker Dade Phelan.

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AUTOR

Thomas Barrabi

DATUM

August 11, 2021

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