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Here’s What Gov. Greg Abbott has Said – or Not Said – About Special Session Items

When Gov. Greg Abbott announced Tuesday that he was calling back the Texas Legislature for a special session, he promised to “make it count,” setting a wide-ranging agenda of 20 issues for lawmakers to consider beginning July 18.

Some of the topics, including school finance reform and property tax reform, have been on Abbott’s legislative wish list since his State of the State address in January, while others have received little or no recent mention from the governor.

Abbott stipulated that lawmakers must first pass “sunset” legislation to reauthorize several key state agencies before he will allow them to turn to the other topics, which range from municipal annexation to a controversial “bathroom bill.” Abbott’s office did not respond to a request for comment Thursday morning.

Here’s a look at Abbott’s previous comments on those topics.

Public schools — and bathrooms

Easily the most controversial topic of the regular session was Senate Bill 6 — the “bathroom bill” — which would have required transgender Texans to use bathrooms in government buildings and public schools that match their “biological sex” and prohibited local governments from adopting or enforcing local bathroom regulations. While Abbott remained silent on SB 6, he did signal support for another bill — House Bill 2899 — that would have nixed existing municipal and school district trans-inclusive bathroom policies and prevent locals from enacting any new policies. He nodded to HB 2899 during his special session announcement.

Two of Abbott’s items focus on public school teachers: one that would raise their salaries by $1,000 and one that would grant school administrators more flexibility over teacher hiring and retention. Abbott discussed local school control and teacher quality during his 2015 State of the State address: “We can bring out the best in all of our teachers by getting rid of these one-size-fits-all mandates and trusting our teachers to truly educate students in the classroom … We must also return genuine local control to the school districts in Texas.” In 2014, before he was governor, Abbott called for paying teachers up to $2,000 more per year if their students performed well on Advanced Placement tests. More recently, he’s been quiet on raising salaries for teachers.

After the Texas Supreme Court ruled in 2016 that the state’s school finance system was constitutional — but critically flawed — Abbott backed school finance reform in his 2017 State of the State address in January: “Both the House and the Senate are right to tackle the vexing issue of school finance now rather than putting it off … It is time to construct an entirely new system. With a sense of urgency, we must create better ways to fund education.”

One contentious issue that contributed to the demise of school finance reform efforts during the regular session was “private school choice” for special-needs students. Abbott added it to the special session agenda after having endorsed the idea in December 2016. “It would be far more efficient to provide that money to parents for them to choose which school is best for their child, knowing that, in the City of Houston, for example, where there are hundreds of schools, there may only be 10 that have the resources and capabilities of addressing the special needs of that particular parent’s child,” he said. He also generally backed “school choice” during his 2017 State of the State address.

Property taxes and local regulations

Efforts to change the process for property appraisal and tax rate increases collapsed during a standoff between the House and Senate during the final days of the legislative session, but lawmakers are set to have another shot in July. Abbott called for rollback elections for property tax increases during his State of the State address in 2017: “We have to remember, property owners are not renting their land from the city. That is why we need property tax reform that prevents cities from raising property taxes without first getting voter approval.”

Abbott also asked lawmakers to address local regulations on spending, trees on private land, construction project rules and permitting. The governor has broadly criticized local regulations but has not addressed all of these items recently.

Earlier this year, he publicly pushed for an end to local rules regulating what property owners do with trees on private land, but he has been quiet on local construction rules (his special session call includes “preventing local governments from changing rules midway through construction projects”).

In a 2015 opinion piece in Forbes, Abbott wrote that he wanted to “speed up the permitting process to help businesses get their projects done faster,” which echoes his comments in his call for a special session.

Abbott wants the Legislature to address municipal annexation rules during the special session after a Democratic filibuster killed a bill meant to allow Texans to vote if a city wanted to include their property in its borders. He’s been quiet on that issue.

Although he just signed a bill instituting a statewide texting-while-driving ban, Abbott has asked lawmakers to pass legislation during a special session stating that the statewide ban overrules any local regulation on the issue. He advocated for such a pre-emption during the session.

Abortion, health and medicine

The special session agenda includes three items relating to abortion policy in Texas: barring taxpayer funding from subsidizing health providers that perform abortion, requiring women to obtain separate insurance policies for non-emergency abortions and increasing reporting requirements for when health complications arise during abortions. During his 2017 State of the State address, Abbott promised to embrace any legislation that “protects unborn children and promotes a culture of life in Texas.”

At the end of his Tuesday announcement, Abbott asked the Legislature to extend a task force dedicated to studying maternal mortality in Texas. Abbott has not been particularly vocal on the topic in the past; a previous statement to the Tribune from spokesman John Wittman said Abbott is “committed to reducing the maternal mortality rate.”

He also put legislation that would strengthen patient protections relating to do-not-resuscitate orders on the agenda. He’s been quiet on that topic.

Government and elections

During the special session, Abbott wants lawmakers to prohibit the use of taxpayer dollars for collecting public employee union dues. He addressed the topic during his 2017 State of the State address: “We must end the practice of government deducting union dues from paychecks of employees. Taxpayer money shouldn’t be used to support the collection of union dues.”

The Legislature used part of its regular session to pass a bill that curbs voter fraud at nursing homes and widens ballot access to elderly Texans who live in them. Abbott wants further action during the special session asking for a bill “cracking down on mail-in ballot fraud.” In late 2016, after the state began investigating alleged mail-in ballot voter fraud in Tarrant County, he tweeted, “We will crush illegal voting.”

Read related Tribune coverage:

  • Advocates and families of transgender Texans are preparing for a special session of the Texas Legislature that’s sure to continue the heated debate over which bathrooms transgender individuals are allowed to use. [link]
  • Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced Tuesday that he’s calling lawmakers back for a special legislative session starting July 18. Here’s what he’s committed to adding to the call.    [link]
  • Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday called a special session of the Texas Legislature starting July 18. Abbott said that after legislators address a bill to keep some state agencies from shuttering, he’ll add another 19 items to the agenda. [link]

Author:  ANDY DUEHREN – The Texas Tribune

Senator Rodríguez’s Statement on Call for Special Session

Austin – Senator José Rodríguez, Chairman of the Senate Democratic Caucus, released the following statement regarding today’s call by the Governor for a Special Session:

I agree with Gov. Abbott’s previous statements: We had ample time to take care of issues during the Regular Session. Instead, the commitment to important Texas priorities such as fixing the broken school finance system and ensuring affordable access to health care fell to the wayside as we frittered time debating bathrooms.

It’s a sad irony that elements of the so-called small government party have now pushed the governor to call an expensive special session at great cost to Texas taxpayers simply to bolster their political position in the next round of elections.

A special session is a waste of Texas taxpayer dollars that should have been avoided. However, in the Regular Session’s last days, the Senate refused to take action to authorize the agency that allows doctors to operate in Texas. That must be fixed, and we could do that quickly and at a minimum of expense, within days. 

Otherwise, there is no requirement the Legislature reconvene until 2019. The Legislature has accomplished its most important work, passing a budget, and wasting Texas taxpayer dollars  for an unscheduled Special Session to politicize the serious work of governance is a disservice to the public. They expect us to do our work and come home to serve in our communities, not spend their money so we can spend the summer arguing about bathrooms. 

Analysis: A Governor Taking Back the Spotlight

Gov. Greg Abbott’s call for a special July-August session gives you a clue — through the timing and the subject matter — as to what problem he hopes to solve.

He wants to erase the notion — a popular idea in the Texas Capitol — that he’s not in charge.

Abbott laid out a bewildering list of ideas for lawmakers to consider in a special session, but put his real emphasis on only one — unpassed legislation that would keep the Texas Medical Board and a handful of other agencies in business after the end of the current budget cycle.

That effectively buries the priorities of his unofficial rival, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who stalled that agency-preserving legislation in an effort to win passage of a couple of pet issues — a “bathroom bill” and restrictions on local property tax increases.

And it puts Abbott back in charge. The regular session belonged, in large measure, to the lieutenant governor: He had an expansive agenda and his issues, for the most part, framed that 140-day venture.

Now the agenda belongs to the governor again. Abbott’s focus is first on the thing that must be done; then and only then, he said, can lawmakers work on an astonishing, almost ridiculous (given the allotted time) avalanche of issues — including Patrick’s, somewhere in the pile — that he’s willing to add to the agenda.

If the point of a special session is to reach agreement on something — property taxes, bathrooms, school finance, the issue of your choice — there’s no reason to start unless you can see the finish. That would be a good reason not to call a one-issue session on the bathroom bill, which stymied lawmakers earlier this year.

That issue is on Abbott’s list, but it must compete with others in that unruly crowd of priorities. Instead of asking lawmakers for the agencies and nothing else, he offered them a shot at everything in the pantry in return for the only bills that have to pass.

The timing of the special session isn’t surprising. It gives lawmakers six weeks to chill out, but it will take place as they are raising political money and making their calculations for the coming electoral season. The session, running from mid-July to mid-August, would end before the new fiscal year starts on Sept. 1 and comes in time to endanger incumbents and embolden challengers. Candidates will file for the 2018 elections from Nov. 11 to Dec. 11, presumably taking the results of the regular and special sessions into account. The primaries are on March 6 of next year.

The surest outcome in bringing the Legislature to Austin on so many issues will be to draw distinctions — to show who’s on what side. That can be politically useful entering an election year. But if you’re looking for policy solutions — for new laws, for remedies to problems, for tax relief — it’s not a formula for success. Some of these things might never come to a vote. Having this many issues in one month would press even a cooperative Legislature, and the 85th hasn’t exhibited many signs of collaborative harmony.

Texas lawmakers left Austin last month in foul humor. That last day, with its pushing and shoving among some of the men on the House floor, was no “Come, let us reason together” celebration.

This all started with the Senate’s hostage-taking, with Patrick’s promise to stall must-pass bills to force votes on restroom restrictions for transgender Texans and on local governments’ ability to raise property taxes without voter approval. He didn’t win on either issue — and he engineered the failure of legislation that would have kept the Texas Medical Board and other agencies operating through the state’s next two-year budget.

Abbott was stuck. He had to call lawmakers back to keep those agencies open. Calling lawmakers back always opens the window for supplicants inside and outside the Legislature who didn’t get what they wanted out of the just-ended regular session. Since lawmakers unclenched their fists and went home on Memorial Day, Abbott has heard calls for special session consideration of restrooms, property taxes, annexation laws, redistricting and even the things that made his list.

He could have stopped his special session call at the agency bills, doing what’s compulsory and leaving the discretionary issues to the 86th Legislature that convenes in 2019. It would only take a couple of days.

Bada-bing, bada-boom.

Everything else requires prep work. The bathroom issue has been in public political discussion for a year. Conservative voters and businesses are split, and the Republican majority in the Legislature is split, too. Importantly, Patrick and House Speaker Joe Straus disagree on it, and nobody from Abbott on down the line was able to reconcile their views before the end of the regular session.

In fact, if you rank the potential special-session subjects in order of their likely success, Patrick’s top issue — the bathroom bill — sits solidly in last place. The sunset bills that would rescue those state agencies are comparatively easy.

Anybody hoping to pass other bills will be hacking through a thicket. Abbott’s list is extensive — and diffusive, knocking the focus away from any one particular issue by surrounding it with a daunting inventory of distracting legislative playthings (the descriptions are the governor’s):

  • Teacher pay increase of $1,000
  • Administrative flexibility in teacher hiring and retention practices
  • School finance reform commission
  • School choice for special needs students
  • Property tax reform
  • Caps on state and local spending
  • Preventing cities from regulating what property owners do with trees on private land
  • Preventing local governments from changing rules midway through construction projects
  • Speeding up local government permitting process
  • Municipal annexation reform
  • Texting while driving preemption
  • Privacy
  • Prohibition of taxpayer dollars to collect union dues
  • Prohibition of taxpayer funding for abortion providers
  • Pro-life insurance reform
  • Strengthening abortion reporting requirements when health complications arise
  • Strengthening patient protections relating to do-not-resuscitate orders
  • Cracking down on mail-in ballot fraud
  • Extending maternal mortality task force

They’ll have 30 days for all of that, and they can’t start until that “sunset” legislation has passed. It’s almost a guarantee that some of those ideas will wither on the vine — and it gives both the House and the Senate ample opportunity to starve legislation they don’t like.

“If they fail, it’s not for lack of time,” Abbott said at the end of his announcement. “It would be because of a lack of will.”

That might be generous: It’s an awfully long list.

Read related Tribune coverage:

  • Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday called a special session of the Texas Legislature starting July 18. At the top of an agenda is a bill to keep some state agencies from shuttering. Once that is addressed, Abbott said he’ll add another 19 items to the agenda, including regulating bathroom use and overhauling the way public schools are funded. [link]
  • As Texas legislators speculated about a special session for unfinished business, lawyers and others started looking for ways to avoid it. The simplest idea — an executive order — won’t work. [link]
  • The state’s top leaders couldn’t close a session-ending deal over the final weekend, giving advocates of bathroom and property tax legislation — if the governor allows it — another chance.  [link]

Author:  ROSS RAMSEY – The Texas Tribune

Analysis: One (Texas) Official to Rule Them All

In the old days — we’re talking way back, in the pre-2015 era — every mayor in the United States of America wanted to be governor and then president and then the face on a nickel or a dime or a two-dollar bill.

Maybe the office of governor should be the end game for every lowly politician who looks at the mirror in the morning and sees a superstar smiling back. Greg Abbott seems to be arguing for a consolidation of political power, what with his goal of moving federal power to the states and with his strong new pitch to make him a sort of mayor-in-chief of all the cities, towns, settlements and camps in the state.

This is not the “United States of Municipalities,” Abbott told a crowd last week in Fort Worth.

“It would be far simpler and frankly easier for those of you who have to run your lives and businesses on a daily basis if the state of Texas adopted an overriding policy and that is to create certain standards that must be met before which local municipalities or counties can establish new regulations,” he said, characterizing his proposal as a “broad-based ban on regulations at the local level unless and until certain standards are met.”

(Note to the governor’s speechwriting scribes: Just spit-balling here, but shouldn’t that line have been “United Municipalities of America?”)

Maybe it’s time to hold a convention to change the Texas Constitution. Abbott wants the states to take a blue pencil to the nationaltxtribu43 document with the aim of diluting federal power in favor of the states. It’s a tall order; he could convene Texans more easily and get all the power a governor can handle — or more.

The governor could take charge of all the fun stuff mayors do: potholes, garbage and police and fire contracts. Don’t forget all those parades.

He could get his hands dirty with planning and zoning boards or burn his fingers telling someone in Houston why they can’t build a house between a water tower and a convenience store. He could regulate restaurants, taking charge of salmonella and hair nets and slime in the ice machines.

It would be a blast to run all those county jails, and putting local control in one office in Austin would make it much easier to move money from places where it’s abundant to places where it’s needed — the better to run every jail, every road project, every police department the same way and up to the same standard.

The guv could be the boss of the property taxes every Texan hates — especially if he rejiggered the system and took control of public schools in addition to counties, cities, municipal utility districts, public utility districts, hospital districts and all of the other annoying government entities that want us to pay enough attention to elect officials and pretend to exercise control over the way we’re governed.

If voting isn’t going to matter — or if the Wizard of Austin is going to overrule local decisions he doesn’t agree with no matter what the locals think — we might as well take the weed eater to those long November ballots.

Imagine how many election decisions we could dump. Who knows who’s on the community college board anyway? Voters wouldn’t have to say they don’t want plastic bags or fracking or ride-hailing drivers who haven’t passed criminal background checks. The folks in Austin could decide whether to build zillion-dollar stadiums for high school football.

Put all the power in one seat — under the parental gaze of a single, elected wise person who knows best. It’s so obvious, once you think of it, you wonder why the founders didn’t design government this way.

Fifty provincial viceroys each running a laboratory of democracy, each in charge of who uses which bathroom, where the bus lanes and the bike lanes go, whether there are gondolas and high-speed trains for mass transit, who grows hash and who makes hooch and who sells those intoxicants, whether there are lotteries, who gets deported and who gets taxed and how and whether it’s okay to park for free downtown after 6 p.m.

The governor of Texas could decide how tall your neighbor’s grass can grow before there’s a fine or whether the utility company could take a chainsaw to the overgrown hedge in the front yard: In turn, we’d finally have uniform city ordinances on vegetation across the state instead of a confusing patchwork of gardening laws.

He wouldn’t have to stop his campaign to rewrite the U.S. Constitution. His goals there are ambitious attempts to make sure that the state is on the handle end of the leash that leads to Washington, D.C.

What if Congress couldn’t regulate an activity that never crosses state lines? What if executive branch agencies couldn’t make regulations overruling state regulations (which means states could make regulations to overturn federal regulations)? What if two-thirds of the states could overturn Supreme Court rulings, or overrule Congress? What if it took seven Supreme Court justices instead of just five to declare a law unconstitutional?

Those items are in Abbott’s proposal for a convention of states. Combine it with the governor’s desire to corral the locals, and you have the makings of a pretty powerful central government in the state capital.

Abbott’s right about the laws here, by the way. That’s not surprising, as he’s a former judge and he’s been a lawyer for a lot longer than he’s been an executive. The states are entitled to keep the powers that aren’t expressly assigned to the big dogs in Washington; that tension between the feds and the states is baked into the cake. Cities and the counties are creations of the state, as Abbott says, and they do get a little big for their britches.

So do those ambitious provincial viceroys.

More columns from Ross Ramsey:

  • The denizens of the Texas Capitol are already talking about the possibility of a special session if lawmakers haven’t finished the budget and other bills by Memorial Day. They might be worried, but you shouldn’t be.
  • The Texas Senate is proposing a new accounting trick to balance its 2018-19 budget. The contrivance would work, mathematically speaking, but it raises constitutional questions and faces derision from the House.
  • Gov. Greg Abbott has hit tough sledding with his call for more spending on early education in Texas. Lawmakers aren’t warm to the idea, to say the least, and the governor hasn’t assembled an army of supporters to back up his position.

Author:  ROSS RAMSEY – The Texas Tribune

SCOTUS Rules Against HB2: Reactions

Governor Abbott Statement On Supreme Court’s HB 2 Ruling

Governor Greg Abbott today issued the following statement on the Supreme Court’s ruling on HB 2:

“The decision erodes States’ law making authority to safeguard the health and safety of women and subjects more innocent life to being lost. Texas’ goal is to protect innocent life, while ensuring the highest health and safety standards for women.”

**

Bishop Seitz Statement on the U.S. Supreme Court Decision Striking Down HB 2

I am extremely disappointed to hear that the U.S. Supreme Court has acted to overturn the will of the people of Texas to provide common sense protections to women who are seeking the serious medical procedure of an abortion.  An abortion results in the death and dismemberment of an unborn child but it also can have serious risks for the mother.  A 2009 Finnish study reported that 20% of abortions had potentially serious complications.

Unregulated facilities such as the one in Philadelphia under the direction of the murderous abortionist, Kermit Gosnell, led to abuses that only a few years ago shocked the nation with his butchery of women for profit.  Without oversight, what is to prevent this situation from taking place here in Texas?

It is sad to see that the drive for the license to kill the unborn has now led us in this country to turn our heads the other way, failing to even sensibly regulate this deadly commerce which often harms the mother and always results in the death of her child.

We continue to pray and work toward a culture of respect and legal protection for every human life, from the moment of conception to natural death, where every mother facing an unexpected pregnancy will know she has the love and support she needs to choose life for her unborn child.

**

State Sen. Rodríguez released the following statement regarding the Supreme Court’s 5-3 ruling on Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt:

The Supreme Court’s landmark decision reaffirms a woman’s constitutional right to access safe and legal abortion no matter where she lives. This decision adds to long-established precedent that the U.S. Constitution protects a woman’s right to make her own decisions for her health, family, and future, without unwarranted, burdensome government interference.

Today’s decision will allow Texas’ remaining clinics to keep their doors open, and for other clinics to open or reopen, improving much-needed access to care for women across the state. My constituents in El Paso and far west Texas will no longer have to travel hundreds of miles to access safe and legal abortion care.

Make no mistake – this is a victory for our Texas families and women’s rights. From its inception, H.B. 2 has been a thinly veiled attempt to restrict access to safe and legal abortion, offered under the condescending pretext “of protecting women.” It is the culmination of a decade-long mission to dismantle access to women’s health services – whether that’s abortion or contraception.

Our state laws force doctors to give Texans grossly medically inaccurate information, and require women to undergo unnecessary ultrasounds, face mandatory delays, and make extra, medically unnecessary visits to the clinic. For a state that prides itself as having less government interference, its leaders have embraced government intrusion into the private lives of women, depriving them of their autonomy.

Undoubtedly, with this defeat, we will face renewed attacks on women during the next legislative session. I continue to stand with Texas families and their health care providers, and pledge to continue to fight unnecessary laws that endanger women’s health and rob women of their respect and dignity.

**

Cornyn Statement on Supreme Court Ruling in Texas HB 2 Case

U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) issued the following statement in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt:

“Today’s ruling sets a dangerous precedent for states like Texas, which the Constitution makes clear should be free to pass laws that are in the best interests of our citizens. Commonsense requirements that abortion clinics be held to the same standards as other medical facilities put the health of the patient first, and today’s decision is a step back in protecting the well-being of mothers across our state.”

Earlier this year, Sen. Cornyn led a broad Congressional coalition in filing an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of Texas HB 2. In total, 34 Senators and 140 Members of the House Representatives signed onto the brief, which can be found here.

Abbott Rejects Obama Criticism of Texas Voter Turnout Efforts

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott repudiated President Barack Obama’s recent criticisms of the state’s voter laws on Monday, arguing that Texas must remain vigilant against voter fraud.

“What I find is that leaders of the other party are against efforts to crack down on voter fraud,” Abbott said. “The fact is that voter fraud is rampant. In Texas, unlike some other states and unlike some other leaders, we are committed to cracking down on voter fraud.”

In an interview with the Texas Tribune CEO and Editor-in-Chief Evan Smith on Friday, Obama said that leaders in Texas are partly to blame for low voter turnout in the state.

“The folks who are governing the good state of Texas aren’t interested in having more people participate,” Obama said.

Obama has been previously critical of Voter ID laws like the one Texas passed in 2011. A federal judge ruled last year that the Texas law had a “discriminatory effect” by restricting access to the polls for black and Hispanic Texans. Last week the full U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals announced that it would hear arguments over whether the law violates the Voting Rights Act. The law requires most citizens to show one of a handful of forms of allowable photo identification before their election ballots can be counted.

One specific policy that Obama suggested the state should adopt to increase turnout would be online voter registration. But Abbott appeared uninterested in the proposal when asked about it at a press conference following the announcement that California-based Pegasus Foods is building a new, 80,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Rockwall, Texas.

“We don’t want to open the system up to methodologies or ways of voting that would promote or allow voter fraud,” Abbott said. “To the contrary to the president’s comment, the fact is — despite our voter registration laws — we had the highest level of turnout than ever before in the primary that occurred just a few weeks before he made that comment.”

While Texas did witness historic voter turnout in the 2016 primaries, the state still had one of the lowest voting-age participation rates of the states that have held primaries so far at 21.5 percent, besting only Louisiana as of last week. But Abbott did not attribute those figures to the state’s election laws, instead pointing to the lack of faith in government among voters.

“Voters and citizens repeatedly say, ‘Why go vote if we’re going to have corrupt leaders in office?’” Abbott said. “So we need to root out and eliminate corrupt leaders and root out and eliminate corruption in the voting process, and that means greater ballot security, not less ballot security.”

Abbott noted that he personally prosecuted voter fraud cases “across the entire state of Texas” while he was the state’s attorney general from 2002 to 2015.

Voter fraud remains by many accounts a rare phenomenon in Texas.

“You’re more likely to get struck by lightning in Texas than to find any kind of voter fraud,”U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, D-New Jersey, said last year, an assertion that PolitiFact found to be true.

As of last year, there had been a total of 85 election fraud prosecutions resolved in Texas, including 51 guilty or no contest pleas and 9 convictions, according to PolitiFact. Lorraine Minnite, a Rutgers professor and author of the book The Myth of Voter Fraud, determined that four cases in Texas from 2000 to 2014 involved in-person voter fraud.

Shortly before the governor spoke on Monday, the Texas Civil Rights Project filed a lawsuit in San Antonio federal court challenging the state’s voter registration procedures. The complaint alleges that Texas is violating the U.S. Constitution and federal law by refusing to register eligible voters who submit changes to their driver’s license information with the Texas Department of Public Safety.

“Plaintiffs, who are eligible Texas voters, have been disenfranchised — just like the thousands of similarly situated voters who complained to election officials about these same problems when their ballots were not counted,” the complaint reads, arguing that this contradicts the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and the National Voter Registration Act of 1993. “Texas voters will continue to be shut out of the democratic process unless and until Defendants reform their registration practices.”

According to the Texas Civil Rights Project, nearly 2,000 voters complained to the state between September 2013 and May 2015 after completing an online transaction with DPS and mistakenly believing that their voter registration records were updated too. The lawsuit was filed against Texas Secretary of State Carlos Cascos and DPS director Steven McCraw.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include information on a federal lawsuit filed Monday

Author:   – The Texas Tribune

The Texas Tribune is a nonpartisan, nonprofit media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them – about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues

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