AUSTIN, Texas - State lawmakers have gathered for a month-long special session in Austin to consider nearly a dozen topics, with felony bond reform and election security as the marquee issues.
Outnumbered Democrats are vowing a" tooth-and-nail" fight against a measure they contend suppresses the vote by outlawing pandemic triggered innovations like 24-hour polling places and drive through voting.
"Attacking the most basic civil right a Texan can enjoy, the sacred right to vote and it's shameful," said State Representative Chris Turner, a Democrat from Grand Prairie.
Republicans are labeling that criticism "nonsense" contending access to the polls will mirror that in place prior to the pandemic with the addition of "fraud prevention" safeguards.
"Let's make sure we have good voting practices because there's no suppression in this. There's no Jim Crow 2. There's none of that in there. That's all political hyperbole, theater from national, leftist progressives echoing back into Texas," said State Senator Paul Bettencourt of Houston.
And then there's the issue of bail reform, which is of particular importance in Harris County where repeat violent offenders cut loose on bond by activist judges have killed more than 120 citizens. It's a growing death toll that's triggered bi-partisan demands for change.
"What is the bail reform going to do? The bail reform is simply going to give judges the option of holding pre-trial, the most violent, repeat offenders. To let these people continue to go out, it is a recipe to destroy our city and our county," said Rania Mankarious, CEO of Crimestoppers of Houston.
Despite that warning and the ever mounting number of victims, House Democrats signaled opposition.
"We want to see personal recognizance bonds re-instated, as they were before the pandemic. We want to see justice," said State Representative Nicole Collier of Ft. Worth.