Texas House Democrats see walkout as ‘show of strength’

Voting restrictions bill ‘must-pass emergency item’ for special session

House Democrats say walking out and breaking the legislative quorum was the only choice they had.

SAN ANTONIO – The Texas Legislature has adjourned its regular session without passing the voting restrictions bill known as Senate Bill 7 because enough House Democrats walked out in protest before the midnight deadline.

“We’re going to rise up and fight for the things we believe in,” said Trey Martinez-Fischer, Dist. 116 state representative. “The right to vote is something we believe in passionately.”

“This was a show of strength,” said Ina Minjarez, District 124 state representative.

Although Democrats are in the minority in the Texas Legislature, Minjarez said, “We are a force to be reckoned with.”

In response, Gov. Greg Abbott said he was “deeply disappointed,” but SB 7 will remain one of two “must-pass emergency items” for a yet-to-be-schedule special session.

Later in the day, the governor also tweeted, “No pay for those who abandon their responsibilities,” vowing he would defund the Texas Legislature for the upcoming fiscal year beginning Sept. 1.

But with similar voting restriction laws already enacted across the country, Martinez-Fischer said the eyes of the nation are on Texas.

“If this becomes the spark of change, we are happy to have done our part,” he said.

Over the weekend, President Joe Biden said SB 7 was “unAmerican.”

None of the Bexar County Republican delegations responded to KSAT 12 News for comment, but in a CNN interview, Rep. Michael McCaul -- who represents the 10th Congressional district -- said he understood why Texas Republicans want SB 7.

“A lot of the American people seem to have lost faith in our government. They’ve lost faith in our elections that we need to restore,” McCaul said.

Martinez-Fischer said it’s not about voting integrity.

“I think the problem is, is that people are voting. That seems to be the problem,” he said.

“This wasn’t a partisan bill, a Democrat or Republican bill. This was hurtful to everybody,” said Barbara Gervin Hawkins, Dist. 120 state representative.

She said now that SB 7 is going to a special session, it will give lawmakers the time to read the bill that has gone from about 25-pages to nearly 80 pages long and allow constituents to weigh in.

Minjares said that, in the meantime, supporters also would be meeting with advocates and legal experts.

“We will have our day if it ends up getting to the federal courts,” Minjares said.

About the Authors:

Jessie Degollado has been with KSAT since 1984. She is a general assignments reporter who covers a wide variety of stories. Raised in Laredo and as an anchor/reporter at KRGV in the Rio Grande Valley, Jessie is especially familiar with border and immigration issues. In 2007, Jessie also was inducted into the San Antonio Women's Hall of Fame.

William Caldera has been at KSAT since 2003. He covers a wide range of stories including breaking news, weather, general assignments and sports.