It’s time for the week that was in Texas politics with Emily Ramshaw, editor-in-chief of The Texas Tribune.
Ramshaw says the “Save Chick-fil-A” bill, or Senate Bill 1978, was “fast-tracked” in the Texas Senate after it died in the House last week. She says the bill, which would make it illegal for the government to penalize businesses for donating to religious groups, among other things, according to The Dallas Morning News – passed in the Senate, and now goes back to the House where Ramshaw says it’s likely to pass.
But she says the House LGBTQ Caucus, which previously killed the bill in the House, argues that the bill would “allow businesses to decline service to gay Texans.”
Also, House lawmakers have changed Senate Bill 9, which was originally meant to modernize voting equipment in order to improve election security. Ramshaw says opponents of the changes say the bill could potentially create opportunities for voter suppression.
“Like upping the penalty for voting if you’re ineligible to vote, even if it was a mistake; giving the AG direct access to the voter roll; even setting new rules for people who drive the elderly to the polls,” Ramshaw says.
Lawmakers face tight deadlines to pass these and other bills. The legislative session ends May 27, and May 21 is the last day for the House to consider Senate bills. But Ramshaw says though it’s unlikely, there’s always the possibility of a special session that would extend into the summer.
Over the next week, Ramshaw says she’ll be watching what the legislature decides regarding school finance, teacher pay raises and property taxes.
Written by Caroline Covington.