Voter ID, handgun fee bills clear legislative hurdles,
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.