Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Why Is Voter ID an Emergency In 2011 Legislative Session?

From our political reporting partner The Texas Tribune comes this video of State Sens. John Whitmire (D-Houston) and Robert Duncan (R-Lubbock) debating the importance of voter ID, which Gov. Rick Perry has declared a legislative emergency.  Wondering what the heck that means? The Texas Tribune explains.

The Texas Legislature meets for 140 days every two years. During the first 60 days of those sessions, they're barred from passing legislation. They can look at it, fiddle with it, hold hearings and all of that, but they can't actually vote on it. Unless it's declared an emergency by the governor, in which case they can hurry up and vote (if they want to). 

As the Trib's Julian Aguilar reports, the first round of debate over voter ID was postponed yesterday, but resumed this morning.

Members of the Senate were expected to hear invited testimony today concerning the bill today but decided to only lay out the procedural rules for how to proceed with Senate Bill 14, which would require showing a photo ID before a ballot is cast. That procedure includes the Senate gaveling in as a committee of the whole to take up the issue. The debate on the actual bill, authored by Horseshoe Bay Republican Troy Fraser, will begin at 8 a.m. Tuesday.

You can read the voter ID bill here.

Governor Perry has also added to the emergency list the abolition of so-called "sanctuary cities", property rights/eminent domain, balancing the federal budget, and a measure that requires women to see a sonogram of their fetus before they have an abortion.

Nathan Bernier is the transportation reporter at KUT. He covers the big projects that are reshaping how we get around Austin, like the I-35 overhaul, the airport's rapid growth and the multibillion-dollar transit expansion Project Connect. He also focuses on the daily changes that affect how we walk, bike and drive around the city. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on X @KUTnathan.