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Texas Democrats Plan To Keep Public Engaged In Fight Against Republican Election Integrity Bills

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - Republicans remain sidelined in the Texas House Monday, July 19 and Speaker Dade Phelan gaveled out after 40 minutes.

After a week of high-profile news conferences, Texas Democrats said they enter their second week out of state with a continued dual-track fight.

State Representative Chris Turner of Grand Prairie who serves as the Chair of the House Democratic Caucus said that includes urging the U.S. Senate to act.

"The ultimate way to solve this problem is for Congress to enact strong federal voting rights legislation immediately. Not next year, not later this year, but immediately," said Rep. Turner.

But with the Senate lacking the 60 required votes to start debating the federal bills, Texas Democrats said they are also keeping a busy schedule and holding meetings like those Monday morning.

State Representative Rafael Anchia of Dallas, who also serves as the Chair of the Mexican American Legislative Caucus said, "We're going to be hearing from advocacy organizations, Secretaries of State, election law experts from across the country so that we can actually come up with good elections law policy, and not the kind of partisan policies that are infringing upon the freedom to vote back in Texas."

Texas House Republicans like State Representative Matt Shaheen of Plano maintain their bill doesn't suppress anyone's vote and that they'll wait for Democrats to return to Austin and then pass it.

"I think it's pretty clear the Democrats really haven't planned this out, they haven't thought it out. I don't think they have an end game. So we're going to keep the pressure up," said Rep. Shaheen.

Dr. Kimi King, Political Science Professor at the University of North Texas said Monday timing is important. "The fact of the matter is that the longer it goes on, the worse it is for the Democrats."

King said if Democrats want to succeed, they should explain to the public what's in the federal voting rights bills and expand their coalitions.

But until the U.S. Senate passes those bills, she said that will be a problem for Texas Democrats. "They need to think seriously about what they will do for the rest of this special session to make it clear that they are still trying to do something. Otherwise, they start being called the do-nothing Democrats."

Representative Turner said they're also looking toward the long-term. "How the changing face of the electorate in Texas must continue to be empowered so we can change the leadership in Austin and change the priorities."

In the short term though, Governor Greg Abbott has said the special sessions of the Texas Legislature will keep coming.

Last week, he told CBS 11 the next special session will begin August 8, the day after this current session ends.

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