Voter ID, hand­gun fee bills clear leg­isla­tive hur­dles,

Austin American-Statesman - - FRONT PAGE - — CHUCK LIN­DELL, AMER­I­CAN-STATES­MAN

Over Demo­cratic ob­jec­tions, the Texas Se­nate gave ini­tial ap­proval Mon­day to a bill that would loosen sev­eral re­quire­ments in the state’s voter ID law while cre­at­ing a harsh penalty for vi­o­la­tions.

Se­nate Bill 5 would cod­ify many of the court-or­dered changes to the 2011 law af­ter a fed­eral ap­peals court ruled last year that it dis­crim­i­nated against mi­nor­ity and poor Tex­ans, in­clud­ing an es­ti­mated 600,000 reg­is­tered vot­ers who lacked a gov­ern­ment-is­sued photo ID.

SB 5 would al­low reg­is­tered vot­ers who lack a photo ID to cast a bal­lot af­ter show­ing a voter reg­is­tra­tion cer­tifi­cate, util­ity bill, bank state­ment, gov­ern­ment check or work pay­check.

Such vot­ers would have to sign a “dec­la­ra­tion of rea­son­able im­ped­i­ment” stat­ing that they could not ac­quire a photo ID due to a lack of trans­porta­tion, lack of a birth cer­tifi­cate, work sched­ule, dis­abil­ity, ill­ness, fam­ily re­spon­si­bil­ity or lost or stolen ID.

Vot­ers found to have in­ten­tion­ally lied on the dec­la­ra­tion could be sub­ject to a third-de­gree felony, with up to 10 years in jail, un­der the bill.

Repub­li­cans re­jected Demo­cratic amend­ments that would have soft­ened the penalty and al­lowed univer­sity stu­dents to vote us­ing a school photo ID.

Fi­nal Se­nate ap­proval is ex­pected Tues­day, send­ing SB 5 to the House.

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