Texas Legislature Set to Debate Controversial Voting-Rights Bill

The Texas House of Representatives is set to start debate on a controversial election bill on Thursday following more than a month of delay. 

The lower chamber of the legislature was set to debate the bill last month before more than 50 Democratic lawmakers fled to Washington to stop the proceedings. Several have returned, giving Republicans the quorum they need to proceed. 

The bill, which has drawn the ire of Democrats and voting-rights activists, increases ID requirements for mail-in ballots, halts drive-thru and 24-hour voting, and limits voter assistance. It also gives more powers to partisan poll watchers.

In May, businesses including HP Inc., Microsoft Corp. and American Airlines Group Inc. voiced opposition to the proposals, which critics said would make it harder for disadvantaged individuals and people of color to vote.

We “oppose any changes that would restrict eligible voters’ access to the ballot,” the businesses said in a statement. “Freedom is preserved in our democracy when we hold free and fair elections that protect the fundamental rights of all Texans.”

Business and politics are colliding in the state, where Republican Governor Greg Abbott is facing backlash over a conservative social agenda that companies say will make it harder for them to attract and retain the best talent. 

Abbott has been battling local school districts over mask mandates, and this week maintained an executive order that prohibits local governments from making workers get a Covid-19 vaccine. The governor also banned any private business that receives any kind of public funds from requiring customers to provide proof of vaccination status. 

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