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The Brief: Jan 26, 2011

The real battle over voter ID, which cleared an initial vote last night, could be just beginning.

Sen. Leticia Van de Putte asks questions of a witness as the Texas Senate debates Voter ID legislation as a Committee of the…

THE BIG CONVERSATION:

The real battle over voter ID, which cleared an initial vote last night, could be just beginning.

Late Tuesday, after more than 10 hours of debate, the state Senate, convening as a Committee of the Whole, passed a version of the contentious Senate Bill 14, which requires Texans to present a form of photo identification before voting. Predictably, the chamber divided along party lines, with its 20 Republicans, including Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, voting for and the 12 Democrats voting against.

After a 24-hour delay, required by Senate rules, the chamber will convene again tonight to offer amendments and cast a final vote. The bill will then wait for approval by the House, where its passage also appears imminent, given the chamber's Republican supermajority.

But Democrats, aware of the impending defeat, warned Tuesday of the potential legal trouble Texas could encounter if lawmakers sign off on the bill. A Justice Department review of revised voting laws in Texas, which falls under the purview of the Voting Rights Act, could take months, noted state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio.

And while the U.S. Supreme Court has affirmed an Indiana law after which the Texas legislation is modeled, Indiana is not one of the 16 states fully or partially covered by the Voting Rights Act.

(If this isn't keeping you entertained, please know that the day's debate also included an exchange about "devious nuns.")

The Texas Observer has more on the law's potential legal hurdles.

CULLED:

  • Amid much talk of bipartisan seating and unity in light of the recent Tucson shooting, state lawmakers reacted largely along party lines to President Obama's State of the Union address Tuesday night. "In Texas we prefer straight talk and promises kept, over grandiose pledges and zero results," Republican U.S. Sen. John Cornyn said in a statement. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, though, offered a slightly more nuanced critique. "Tonight we saw a change in the president's message, and that is a good sign," she said. "Now we have to see the follow-through."
  • Railroad Commissioner Elizabeth Ames Jones, kicking off her U.S. Senate campaign Tuesday, said that if elected, she'd spend most of her time in Washington working to reverse policy decisions. "I want to be a senator that is so busy undoing that I don't have time to do anything more to you than has already been done to us over the last decades," she said at a campaign stop. "And so it's going to be a busy time undoing things, undoing things like ObamaCare, undoing a socialist plan to ensure that everybody has everything and all your dreams come true."

"Some folks get all tied up in knots that we want to put certain issues on the fast track. I guess y'all think we can’t multitask." — Gov. Rick Perry on criticism that he and state Republicans have put other issues that the governor has deemed "emergency items" — like voter ID and abortion legislation — ahead of the budget shortfall

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