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The Brief: Top Texas News for March 22, 2011

To Democrats' momentary relief, House debate on Monday over voter ID stalled before it even seemed to get started.

State Rep. Armando Martinez, D-Weslaco, smiles at State Rep. Patricia Harless, R-Spring, after Martinez called a point of or…

The Big Conversation:

To Democrats' momentary relief, House debate on Monday over voter ID stalled before it even seemed to get started.

Though Democrats were expected to spend all day firing amendments at the legislation, a Democrat's procedural objection to wording in the bill was sustained, ending debate for the day and sending the bill — which would require voters to present photo ID — back to committee.

State Rep. Armando Martinez, D-Weslaco, called the point of order over a discrepancy between "days" and "business days" in the bill and its official analysis.

"We don't want any Texans to have any type of suppression on their vote," Martinez said of the objection.

Rep. Patricia Harless, R-Spring, the House sponsor of the bill, which already cleared the Senate, called the objection valid. "I want a good bill by the end of the day," she said.

A House committee approved a redrafted version of the bill later in the afternoon. Lawmakers said the bill, whose passage is virtually assured, could be back on the House floor by Wednesday.

Culled:

  • A Senate subcommittee tasked with finding $5 billion in "nontax revenue" will meet today for the first time. And the panel, as the San Antonio Express-News reports, has its eye on driver's license fees and college tuition.
  • A Senate committee will hear testimony today on anti-bullying legislation, which, as the Tribune's Morgan Smith recently reported, has stirred debate over how to define bullying and whether policing should instead be handled locally.
  • San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro has joined a number of high-profile officials in calling for the resignation of Dan Ramos, chairman of the Bexar County Democratic Party, for attacking gays and others. Ramos has said he'll resign "when hell freezes over."
  • The Railroad Commission will vote today whether to hold gas driller Range Resources responsible for contaminating at least two wells in the Barnett Shale area. The commission, whose examiners have said the company shouldn't be blamed, has clashed with the Environmental Protection Agency, which in December ordered Range to resolve the problem.

"If illegal immigrants are really infiltrating elections, they must be voting straight-ticket Republican." — State Rep. Rafael Anchia, D-Dallas, during voter ID debate Monday

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