- Democrats in the Texas State House will flee the state en masse to block conservative bills, per reports.
- Gov. Greg Abbott convened a special session to pass voting restrictions and other legislation.
- Democrats are now aiming to deny the legislative quorum necessary to move forward on the bills.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Democrats in the Texas House of Representatives are leaving the state in a dramatic walkout to block a number of conservative priorities from passing in a legislative special session, VoteBeat, The New York Times, and NBC News report.
Gov. Greg Abbott convened the special session, which began July 8, to pass a litany of conservative priorities including voting reform and legislation targeting abortion access, social media companies, transgender students participating in school sports, and the teaching of critical race theory in schools.
State House Democrats previously walked out at the end of the last legislative session in order to deny a quorum and run out the clock to pass Senate Bill 7, a bill that included new restrictions on voting and criminal penalties for election officials.
Under the Texas Constitution, a two-thirds majority of lawmakers are required to be present for legislative business to proceed. Texas is one of just a few states where the minority party can leave to deny the quorum necessary to pass legislation.
The lawmakers could be subject to apprehension by law enforcement, specifically the Texas Rangers, while trying to leave the state.
The last time Texas Democratic lawmakers fled the state to deny a quorum was in 2003, when some legislators went over the border into Oklahoma first and then to New Mexico to try to block the passage of new GOP-drawn congressional maps during a high-stakes fight over redistricting.
At least some of the Democrats expected to leave the state on Monday are flying to Washington, D.C. on a chartered plane to pressure Congress to pass voting rights reform, NBC and The Times reported.
A group of Texas Democratic lawmakers went to Congress after the successful walkout to block SB 7 to lobby for the passage of the For The People Act, a sweeping Democratic voting rights and democracy reform bill that passed the House but was eventually filibustered in the Senate.
In Texas, Republicans in both chambers passed their new proposed election reform bills out of committee after hearings held over the weekend.
The bills, House Bill 3 and Senate Bill 1, significantly overlap with Senate Bill 7 in adding a new identification requirement for absentee ballots, banning 24-hour and drive-thru voting, prohibiting election officials from sending out unsolicited absentee applications, further criminalizing paid third-party ballot collection, and empowering partisan election observers.
After the walkout, however, Republicans dropped two of SB 7’s highly controversial provisions from the new bills: one that would have limited early voting hours on Sundays, and a measure that would have made it easier for losing candidates to overturn election results.