Election legislation roundup: Texas State Legislature

As of June 18, members of the Texas State Legislature, which includes the Texas House of Representatives and the Texas State Senate, have passed 34 bills related to election administration since the beginning of the year. Of those 34 bills, legislators passed zero during the week of June 12-18.

Of the 34 bills passed this year, 33 have been enacted. Republicans sponsored 17 and Democrats sponsored three, while a bipartisan group of legislators sponsored 13.  Five of the 33 bills are: 

  • TX HB1243: Relating to the penalty for the offense of illegal voting; increasing a criminal penalty, Reps. Trent Ashby (R), Ben Bumgarner (R), Travis Clardy (R), David Cook (R), Drew Darby (R), Jay Dean (R), Mark Dorazio (R), Craig Goldman (R), Caroline Harris (R), Brian Harrison (R), Richard Hayes (R), Cole Hefner (R), Carrie Isaac (R), Jeff Leach (R), Terri Leo-Wilson (R), Janie Lopez (R), Will Metcalf (R), Andrew Murr (R), Candy Noble (R), Tom Oliverson (R), Jared Patterson (R), Dennis Paul (R), David Spiller (R), Lynn Stucky (R), Kronda Thimesch (R), and Steve Toth (R), and Sens. Paul Bettencourt (R), Brian Birdwell (R), Brandon Creighton (R), Bryan Hughes (R), Lois Kolkhorst (R), Tan Parker (R), and Angela Paxton (R).
    • As introduced, this bill increases the criminal penalty for the offense of illegal voting to a felony of the second degree unless the person is convicted of an attempt, which is a state jail felony.
  • TX HB315: Relating to a statement by the secretary of state regarding the furnishing of certain personal information on an application for a ballot to be voted by mail, Rep. Philip Cortez (D) and Sens. Royce West (D) and Judith Zaffirini (D).
    • As introduced, this bill requires the secretary of state to provide a statement on the early voting application and online that says how a voter’s personal information will be used for early voting purposes.
  • TX HB2559: Relating to the persons authorized to administer an oath in this state, Rep. Cody Vasut (R) and Sen. Judith Zaffirini (D).
    • As introduced, this bill allows a retired justice of the peace to administer an oath.
  • TX SB1054: Relating to requirements for a trial in the contest of an election on a proposed constitutional amendment, Rep. Dustin Burrows (R) and Sen. Robert Nichols (R).
    • As introduced, this bill requires the date for a trial on the contest on an election for a proposed constitutional amendment to not be earlier than the 45th day after the contested election nor later than the 180th day after the election. If the contestant requests an earlier date, the trial date may be held earlier. If an appeal is filed, the appellate court must ensure that the action is brought to final disposition no later than the 180th day after the judgment becomes final.
  • TX SB825: Relating to the deadline for submitting certain recount petitions, Rep. Charles Cunningham (R) and Sen. Paul Bettencourt (R).
    • As amended, this bill requires initial recount petitions be submitted by 5 p.m. of the third business day after the day of the canvass of the original election returns. If the deadline for submitting a petition for an initial recount falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or legal state holiday, the bill extends the deadline to 10 a.m. of the next regular business day.

From June 12-18, legislators passed 15 bills related to election administration nationally. As of June 18, Texas legislators have passed the most bills this year with 34, while legislators in nine states have passed none. The state with the most enacted bills is Texas with 33, while 13 states have enacted none.

The Texas State Legislature was scheduled to be in regular session from Jan. 10 to May 29 this year. In 2022, Texas legislators passed zero election-related bills. Texas is a Republican trifecta, meaning Republicans control the governorship and both chambers of the state legislature. 

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