Some of your favorite Game of Thrones characters weren’t the only ones left for dead Sunday night.
Just before the HBO show aired its much-anticipated finale, Texas Democrats marked the death of a divisive piece of legislation they argued would have suppressed voter turnout. The bill had a quiet end, killed by a House committee that decided against scheduling it for debate in the final days of the 2019 session.
“I don’t think it represented the best of what Texas has to offer,” said Rep. Joe Moody, D-El Paso, a member of the House Committee on Calendars. “It has no place on the House floor.”
Senate Bill 9 by Sen. Bryan Hughes, R-Mineola, would have increased criminal penalties for providing false information on a voter registration application, as well as the investigative powers of law enforcement over elections, and would have required those assisting voters to fill out more detailed forms on how they are helping. Supporters such as Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who made it a priority, said the bill would improve elections security.
But voting rights groups and Democrats said it would have scared away registration volunteers or those who help elderly and disabled voters drive to the polls.
“This is a huge win for voting rights and against voter suppression,” Anthony Gutierrez, executive director of Common Cause Texas, said in a prepared statement Sunday. “These fights are not over and we continue to be vigilant in watching for attempts to amend pieces of SB 9 onto other bills.”
While the bill itself is now dead, Hughes could revive it by encouraging a colleague in the House to tack on some of its provisions to other legislation scheduled for debate next week.
“I’ll be getting with members of the House who care about election reform, and we’re going to keep working on the issue,” said Hughes. When pressed on whether he’d ask for it to be brought back to life, he declined, adding, “It’s very late in the session.”
Senate bills must be debated by Tuesday. The legislative session ends May 27.