Top Morning Stories March 24, 2011
The Texas House Passes Voter ID
After more than 11 hours of debate, the Texas House gave initial approval to a voter ID bill last night. It would require Texans to show a photo ID before casting a ballot at the polls. Democrats used a variety of parliamentary procedures to delay the bill but didn't have the votes to stop it. Democratic lawmakers say it would disenfranchise minority and elderly voters. Republicans say it would protect the integrity of the voting system by preventing voter fraud. As the Austin American-Statesman reports, emotions ran high during yesterday's debate:
Rep. Dawnna Dukes, D-Austin, was among those who offered an amendment that was tabled. When Dukes, an African American, laid out her amendment, she spoke emotionally with Rep. Jose Aliseda, R-Beeville, who opposed her from the chamber's back microphone. "Don't try to make it more difficult for my people to be able to have the ability to vote," Dukes told Aliseda, her voice rising. Dukes later said about the bill: "I think it's about disenfranchising groups of people who do not historically vote for the Republican Party." And it is those people - often minorities and the elderly - who will have the hardest time voting if the bill becomes law, she added. Rep. Larry Gonzales, a Hispanic Republican from Round Rock, disagreed. "This bill is colorblind," Gonzales said.
The bill has one more vote in the House before heading to a conference committee to be reconciled with the Senate's version.
Austin Bulldog Files Formal Complaint Against the City
There's a new development in the ongoing dispute between The Austin Bulldog and the City of Austin over the Texas Public Information Act. The Bulldog has filed a formal complaint with Travis County Attorney David Escamilla against the city and city council members. Here's more from The Bulldog's Ken Martin:
This complaint, which is civil in nature, not criminal, requests that Escamilla use his authority to determine if the City of Austin and its officials have violated the TPIA as alleged in the complaint. If Escamilla finds that violations have occurred, the complaint asks that he seek a court order requiring the city, council members and staff to comply with the Act. He has the authority to bring a lawsuit in the name of the State of Texas for declaratory judgment and injunctive relief that is in addition to any other civil, administrative, or criminal action.
The complaint is related to but separate from The Bulldog's lawsuit against the city that claims officials failed to fully respond to an open records request.
ANC Announces City Election Endorsements
Last night, the Austin Neighborhoods Council voted on its endorsements for the Austin City Council’s upcoming elections. The ANC endorsed incumbent Laura Morrison for Place 4 and one of Randi Shade’s challengers, Kathie Tovo, for Place 3. Tovo is former vice president of the Neighborhoods Council. The ANC did not make an endorsement for Place 1, currently held by Chris Riley.