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No work, no pay! Gov Abbott threatens to veto bill funding legislators after Dems walked out

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Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday pledged to cut off funding to the state legislature after Democrats walked out of the chamber the day before, denying a quorum and effectively killing legislation backers say improves voter integrity.

“I will veto Article 10 of the budget passed by the legislature. Article 10 funds the legislative branch. No pay for those who abandon their responsibilities. Stay tuned,” he noted on Twitter.

Abbott’s vow comes after Democrats en masse walked out in protest to prevent a vote on an election reform measure that otherwise was destined to pass and the GOP governor had vowed to sign. He also said Monday he would call a special session of the legislature to get the bill passed, though he did not announce a timetable for that.

In a separate statement published Monday, Abbott also said the walkout was “deeply disappointing and concerning.”

“From Day One of this session, our priorities were centered around hardworking Texans and building a state that is safer, freer, healthier, and more prosperous. We added to that the imperative that we secure the Texas power system to ensure it never fails again. We kept those promises while also delivering one of the most conservative legislative sessions our state has ever seen,” Abbott said.

“However, there is more we can and must do to ensure a brighter future for Texas. At the beginning of the legislative session, I declared Election Integrity and Bail Reform to be must-pass emergency items. It is deeply disappointing and concerning for Texans that neither reached my desk,” he added.

“Ensuring the integrity of our elections and reforming a broken bail system remain emergencies in Texas, which is why these items, along with other priority items, will be added to the special session agenda,” Abbott continued.

“I expect legislators to have worked out their differences prior to arriving back at the Capitol so that they can hit the ground running to pass legislation related to these emergency items and other priority legislation. During the special session, we will continue to advance policies that put the people of Texas first,” he said.

Democrats opposed to the legislation made familiar arguments, namely that the GOP-led legislation targeted minorities.

But if passed and signed by Abbott, the measure will ban drive-through voting while imposing hefty new felonies on public officials who offer or send mail-in ballot applications to voters who don’t request them. Also, the bill prohibits 24-hour voting, which The Hill reports was utilized “by more than 100,000 voters in the 2020 election in Harris County, where President Biden won with about 56 percent of the vote.”

Harris County encompasses Houston; with more than 4 million people per the 2010 census, it’s the third-largest county in the United States.

The measure would also empower state courts to toss out elections if “the number of votes illegally cast in the election is equal to or greater than the number of votes necessary to change the outcome of an election.”

The Texas bill follows similar election reform measures either passed in other states or which are being considered in the wake of the tumultuous 2020 election, which Republicans say were marred by changes made to voting rules and election laws in key battleground states by judges, governors and secretaries of state — not by state legislatures, as called for in the Constitution.

Georgia was the first to pass election reform after GOP Gov. Brian Kemp signed a measure in March that restricts the use of ballot drop boxes and requires voter ID for absentee balloting, among a few other changes.

Florida was next after Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill early last month that limits the use of drop boxes, mandates that voters file new requests for absentee ballots every election cycle instead of every four years, and bans anyone but election workers from distributing food and water to people in line to vote within 150 feet of a polling center.

Several legal cases were filed by the 2020 Trump campaign and states challenging the pre-election voting changes, many allegedly made in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, but federal courts and the Supreme Court refused to hear them.

A 2005 report chaired by former Democratic President Jimmy Carter and GOP Secretary of State James Baker found that widespread mail-in balloting would open the door to voter fraud.

“Absentee ballots remain the largest source of potential voter fraud,” the Commission on Federal Election Reform found.

Jon Dougherty

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