AUSTIN — The state Senate is expected to take up controversial voter ID legislation next week after Gov. Rick Perry designated it an emergency issue that he wants lawmakers to pass within the first 60 days of the legislative session.
Perry, who has already designated property rights and so-called sanctuary cities as emergency items, on Thursday added two more items to the list: the voter ID bill and legislation calling for a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
"Fiscal discipline, balanced budgets and the integrity of the ballot box are critical to the people of Texas," Perry said Thursday. "Under this emergency declaration, Texas lawmakers will be able to address these priority issues more quickly."
Perry's announcement prompted sharp criticism among Democrats.
"The governor's priorities are out of touch with the real needs of hardworking Texas families," said state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth.
"We are facing a fiscal crisis, education is poised to lose nearly $10 billion, and neither of the governor's emergency declarations do anything to create jobs or grow our economy," Davis said.
Ten voter ID bills have been introduced for the 82nd Legislature that started last week, including a bill by Todd Smith, R-Euless, chairman of the House Elections Committee, that would require voters to show a photo ID to vote. Sen. Troy Fraser, R-Horseshoe Bay, is sponsoring similar legislation in the Senate.
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