What the F*** is Going on in Texas?
Guys, we know what you’re going to say.
“But VFP! You talked about Texas in last week’s blog post!”
Things have escalated dramatically in Texas this week, and, as your dedicated guides to the mess that is voter suppression in 2021, we’ve decided it’s our duty to take a deeper dive into Texas.
What’s the Backstory?
We know you all read last week’s post, but here’s a quick reminder:
S.B. 7 has been making its way through the Texas legislature since May, culminating in a closed-door Senate hearing last week to determine the final text of the bill. To be clear, closed door sessions to write laws are decidedly *not* normal, and the final text of S.B. 7 would have imposed some of the strictest voting restrictions in the country on Texans (particularly on Texans of color).
So What Happened?
S.B. 7 was brought to the floor of the Texas House of Representatives at the very last minute-- for it to pass into law, it had to be voted on by midnight on Sunday, May 30th, the last day of Texas’s legislative session. This deadline was made even more dramatic by the fact that Texas has a part-time state legislature, which means that it meets only once every two years.
Over the course of Sunday night, more than five dozen Democrats walked off the floor of the House, preventing a quorum. Basically, as a result of the walkout, there weren’t enough lawmakers present to hold a legal vote, so the legislative session ended without passing S.B. 7.
You might think that the end of Texas’s legislative session meant the end of S.B. 7, at least for two years, right?
This is Texas, the state that provided smash hit Dallas with enough drama to run for 14 seasons. Obviously there’s more.
Leaders in both chambers have said they would call the Legislature into a special session to force a vote on the bill, and the architects of the original legislation have promised to use the special session to “craft a bill even more to their liking,” per the New York Times. I don’t love the sound of that.
Meanwhile, Governor Greg Abbot has threatened to withhold paychecks to state legislators “for those who abandon their responsibilities.” This isn’t great, but we would note that these legislators could be hustling a little harder for their paychecks-- 140 days every two years feels a little light.
Oh, boy is right. A special session is expected to be announced any day, and legislators who originally pushed S.B. 7 are expected to use it to craft an even more robust* bill. Obviously, we’ll know more once that session is announced, and we promise to keep you updated with any actions you can take to help protect the vote in Texas.
*oppressive to people of color
A big thank you goes out to the brave legislators who walked off the floor and prevented the passage of S.B. 7 last weekend. They proved to all of us that even in the most challenging of circumstances, this fight is worth it, and real change is possible.
Thanks for reading, y’all! Talk soon.
“American history is longer, larger, more various, more beautiful, and more terrible than anything anyone has ever said about it.” – James Baldwin