Texas State Representative Philip Cortez was one of about 60 Democratic lawmakers who skipped a special session of the legislature to block the passage of a voting reform bill, but more than a week later he and his colleagues moved to Washington, D.C. , he decided to go back home and solve the problem.
Cortez posted a statement online explaining that he had been asked by fellow Democrats in his home state to come back and help improve the bill.
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“I proudly stood with my Democratic colleagues and left Texas to ensure that House Bill 3 would not be approved as it was introduced. A small working group of Democrats worked to improve HB3 in Austin. Decided to start an active discussion and ask that I come back to establish open communication lines,” Cortez said. “I returned to Texas to try to engage in a goodwill dialogue about aspects of the bill that I and others think are harmful.”
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Cortez said what other Democrats are doing in the nation’s capital is worthwhile, adding that he and his allies need to “fight this battle on parallel tracks in Texas and Washington DC with one goal in mind.” Needed: Full and open access to vote for all Texans.”
Still in DC, Abhi Rahman, a spokesman for the group, told LBL that no more members plan to move back to Texas.
Governor Greg Abbott called a special session to address a range of issues, including election integrity. State House and Senate bills would declare unsolicited applications for absentee ballots illegal and require the last four digits of the driver’s license number or Social Security number to be on the absentee ballot. They would also increase early voting hours for local elections and significantly reduce the limit for counties’ populations by requiring at least 12 hours of early voting per week in state elections during the second week of early voting.
Cortez is the second Democrat in DC to leave the group and return home, after State Representative Harold Dutton left for family reasons. Dallas Morning News. Abbott had warned that those who escaped the special session would be arrested upon their return and brought to the legislature at work, but Austin American-politician reported that both Cortez and Dutton returned with no problems.
LBL’ Lillian Lecroy contributed to this report.