Voter ID Goes to Conference Committee
After passing both the House and Senate, the contentious Senate voter ID bill returned to the upper chamber with a variety of House amendments. Rather than accept the House’s tweaks to the measure, the Senate sent the bill to conference committee, where five members of each chamber will iron out the differences between the versions. Despite the differences, either version would give Texas one of the toughest voter ID laws in the country.
While there was little debate, the bill’s author, Sen. Troy Fraser, R-Horseshoe Bay,said afterwards that he wasn’t happy with some of the changes. “There were things on the bill that we would want to potentially take off,” Fraser said. He refused to get into specifics. “There is not anything set one way or another,” he said. “I just want to understand why they put the amendments on.”
The House added 24 amendments to the Senate bill, which requires voters to show a photo ID before they cast a ballot. While some of the changes made the bill more flexible, others added more stringency. Among the most contentious amendments was Rep. Dennis Bonnen’s successful effort to eliminate a Senate provision exempting those over 70 from the ID requirement.
Sen. Leticia Van De Putte, D-San Antonio, fought against the bill on the Senate floor and, as one of the five senators on the conference committee, says she will continue to fight for some of the more flexible House provisions. In particular, she supports a measure that would allow students to show a student ID as a backup when addresses don’t match up.
In addition to Fraser and Van de Putte, Republican Sens. Joan Huffman, Brian Birdwell, and Tommy Williams will sit on the committee. “I don’t intend to sign on to the conference compromise,” Van De Putte says. But with the other four members being Republican supporters of the bill, that may hardly matter.