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Why did Texas Democrats flee the state?  And what does that mean?


“The governor of Texas can call as many special sessions as he wants,” Jones said.

Republicans may also have few options to prevent similar tactics in the future. They need significant Democratic membership to change the quorum rules in the Texas Constitution. But “you might see a return on your investment” in the next regular legislative session, Mr Jones said. “You might see a lot fewer Democrats in committee chairs.”

It has been a difficult year for Democrats in state legislatures across the country. More than 14 Republican-controlled states have passed sweeping election laws that restrict access to the vote in ways that could harm Democrats.

In Texas, a state that is already one of the toughest to vote on, Republicans held marathon sessions on the bill in the final days of the regular session that ended in late May.

The legislation includes provisions that would prohibit 24-hour voting and drive-thru voting; considerably extend the authority and autonomy of observers who are supporters of the poll; limit the collection of ballots by third parties; increase criminal penalties for election workers who violate regulations; and add new voter identification requirements for postal voting.

This week was not the first time Texas lawmakers from the minority party have fled in an attempt to block passage of controversial legislation. In May 2003, more than 50 House Democrats fled to Ardmore, Oklahoma, 30 miles north of the Texas border, to prevent Republicans from redesigning congressional districts.

The measurement failed without a quorum.

Two months later, after then-governor Rick Perry called a special session, 11 Democratic state senators fled to New Mexico, 640 miles from Austin, to once again deny their fellow Republican quorum and avoid redistributing efforts which they thought would hurt their party.

Most notably, in 1979, a dozen Democratic senators known as “Killer Bees” hid for five days from Republicans and Texas Rangers to prevent the Senate from reaching a quorum.



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