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Texas Senate OKs Revisions To Voter ID Law

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Republican state Sen. Brandt Hershman's committee made substantial changes to much of the fine print of the House Republican proposal before passing the measure on an 11 to 2 vote.

Legislation that would require the governor to appoint the director of the state's Fair Housing Commission advanced through a House committee Monday.

It now heads to the full Senate.

The Senate Tax and Fiscal Policy Committee on Tuesday revamped a transportation funding plan sent by the House.

But an amendment approved in the Senate Rules and Legislative Procedure Committee Monday altered the House bill enough to revive it.

That proposal hasn't yet reached the House floor, but may not pass given the uproar and costly boycotts that followed North Carolina approving a similar law previous year.

"No matter what the amendment says, it does the same thing the (original) bill did", said Lanane, ranking minority member of the committee.

Education is one of our main focuses this year, and this week we passed several proposals aimed at increasing teacher pay, boosting teacher recruitment and slashing administrative costs.

The bill drew stiff objections from Democrats, including Sen.

Sen. Joan Huffman, R-Houston, said Senate Bill 5 used the US 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling as a roadmap for changing the voter ID law.

Last time it failed, he said the author moved too quickly, and he said he will not allow that to happen this time.

"They could ask for tolling of existing lanes or I believe they could ask for tolling only on new lanes", Hershman said. "I will vote yes in committee [Monday], but I will vote no on the floor with the full Senate".

But numerous overarching tax-raising provisions remain, including a $15 vehicle registration fee, a 10-cent gasoline tax increase and a diesel tax increase, albeit slightly reduced.

The issue has been long debated in the Legislature, and this year House Speaker Brian Bosma and Gov. Eric Holcomb are supporting the idea of making the superintendent an elected position. That would allow incumbent superintendent Jennifer McCormick to run for one more elected term.

"There's a lot of unanswered questions and concerns", Senate Finance Chairman Mike Hall, R-Putnam, said in laying over the bill Monday.

"I'm optimistic we're going to get a deal done", he said. She says the stalemate caused by their clashing philosophies frequently delayed projects and policies.

State lawmakers have less money to spend this legislative session because of a downturn in the oil and gas industry, some say lawmakers should dip into the state's savings account.

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