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The Brief: Jan. 27, 2011

Months from now, you may be hard-pressed to even remember voter ID.

Senators gather in Texas Senate well as they discuss SB 14 Voter ID January 26th, 2011

THE BIG CONVERSATION:

Months from now, you may be hard-pressed to even remember voter ID.

Last night, the state Senate, as expected, approved this session's iteration of a voter ID bill, which would require Texans to present a form of photo identification before voting. The vote, also not unexpectedly, was split along party lines. (Find video highlights of the day's debate here.) The legislation will now move to the House, where it's also expected to pass.

And while it may be today's big conversation, the bigger conversation's all about what's to come. After all, voter ID legislation tied up the Legislature in 2009, when Democrats held significantly more seats. But as the Tribune's Julián Aguilar reports today, Republicans, now wielding huge majorities, have pushed the debate over immigration far to the right, making voter ID look tame in comparison to what some lawmakers have planned for the session.

There's state Rep. Leo Berman's "birther" bill, which would require presidential candidates to show proof of citizenship to get on the ballot in Texas. Then there's Berman's bill that would block counties from granting birthright citizenship. "If it passes, we expect to be sued immediately, and that’s exactly what we’re looking for," says Berman, a Tyler Republican. "We want to be sued in federal court so that federal judges will finally read the 14th Amendment."

Rep. Van Taylor, R-Plano, has filed legislation that targets legal aliens seeking indigent care. The bill would let counties consider the income of a legal alien's sponsor when determining indigence.

And don't forget Rep. Debbie Riddle, who camped out at the Capitol last year to be first in line to file immigration legislation. The Tomball Republican wants to make public schools ask for copies of children's birth certificates before granting them enrollment. Another bill she's filed would require public schools to submit information on the number of students enrolled in bilingual education programs.

In the end, voter ID, even with the potential legal battles it may bring, may have been just the beginning.

CULLED:

  • Still dropping hints that he's considering a Senate run, U.S. Rep. Ron Paul — whose bid would only further intensify the already crowded race for the Republican nomination, which will likely include such heavy-hitters as Lt. Gov. David Dewhursttells The Dallas Morning News, "I’m just waiting and seeing what comes about, who files and what they do." Take that however you will, though, given that last week the Texas congressman seemed to again have his eye on the presidency.
  • The Texas Department of Transportation announced Wednesday that its executive director, Amadeo Saenz, and deputy executive director, Steve Simmons, would retire in August. The news follows the recent release of a report that urged the troubled agency to find new leadership to help resuscitate its image. 

"If you have an accident with a car driven by an illegal alien, you are going to pay for your own car. But if you hit them, they are going to get an attorney, an abogado, and they are going to try and sue you for everything you’re worth." — State Rep. Leo Berman, R-Tyler, on a House bill he's filed that would ban undocumented immigrants from suing legal residents of Texas

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