DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – At the Texas Capitol Friday, Democratic State Sen. Royce West, of Dallas, and the Senate Democratic Caucus presented Senate Bill 61, the Barbara Jordan Fair Elections Act.
It’s named after the first Black woman elected to the state Senate.READ MORE: Willie Nelson Set To Perform At Billy Bob's Texas For 58th Time In November
It would allow voter registration online, automatically register people to vote when they get a drivers license and expand access in other ways.
West said, “The act respects Texans ability to choose how they would cast their ballot by expanding the use of vote by mail and expanding the early voting period.”
State Sen. Beverly Powell, D-Fort Worth, said she wants lawmakers to consider their bill. “Today, we call for a hearing on this critical legislation to be sure every single voice is heard.”
After the Senate gaveled out of the session Friday, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick came to Dallas in the afternoon to address the CPAC convention, where more than 4,100 conservatives are gathering this weekend.
During an interview after his remarks, Patrick said all lawmakers want a hearing for their bills, but that there’s no time for that to happen in the 30-day-long special session.READ MORE: Parkland Doctors Urge Parents To Put COVID-19 Vaccine On Back-To-School List For Students 12 And Up
“We’re always willing to listen. But these proposals so far have been rejected and we’re going with Senate Bill One, which is very close to in fact, a little better than Senate Bill 7. So that’s the bill we’re going to pass,” he said.
Democrats have accused Republicans of trying to suppress their votes by limiting hours.
Patrick said voting hours would be expanded.
Under the House’s version of the bill, HB 3, early voting on most days could take place between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. and on Sundays between 9 a.m. and 10 p.m.
The Senate bill would allow voting to take place between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. everyday.
Patrick said, “There’s nothing in Senate Bill One, nothing that restricts people from voting. Nothing.”MORE NEWS: Hit-And-Run: Investigators Looking For Red Toyota Camry Connected To Katie M. Derouin's Death
Committees in both the House and Senate will hold hearings on the elections integrity bills Saturday morning.