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Texas representative helping lead push for federal voting rights legislation

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the legislation. The Senate doesn't have the votes to do so without Republican support.
Credit: AP
FILE - In this Feb. 26, 2020 file photo, using both the English and Spanish language, a sign points potential voters to an official polling location during early voting in Dallas. Getting enough people to staff polling places amid the coronavirus pandemic is a challenge in many states. The virus’ disproportionate impact on Latinos has made the task of recruiting Spanish-speakers even more difficult. (AP Photo/LM Otero, File)

Federal voting rights legislation

Lawmakers from across the country are calling on the U.S. Senate to delay winter recess until they take up the voting rights bills that would prevent discrimination at the polling booth.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the legislation. The Senate doesn't have the votes to do so without Republican support. Democrats could get it passed with a simple majority, but that would require changes to the filibuster rule. Democratic Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema have said they would not support such a move.

Texas State Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, a Democrat from San Antonio, is leading this effort and said the conversation is still "fluid."

"We've all realized that Build Back Better is sort of moving to the sideline as Senator Manchin and the White House negotiate the finer points, and so you now see an opportunity to put voting rights back in the front," he explained.

Will the 2022 primary election happen?

Candidates have filed to campaign in next year's primary election. The question that everyone is asking is: Will the election be delayed beyond March 1st? 

Democrats and the Department of Justice are suing over the newly drawn districts in Texas, saying that Republicans reduced the influence of minorities.

Are judges likely to delay the March primaries while courts sort this out? The Texas Tribune's Ross Ramsey said he doesn't know how likely that is to happen, though it has happened before.

"The candidates have all filed and the new redistricting maps are in court, and if the courts find any problem with those, they'll delay at least part of the election in some races just to re-draw the maps," he predicted. "The question is whether the maps are legal or not, and we won't know that until the judges say so."

Texas abortion law inspires new gun proposal

California wants to go after assault rifles and homemade guns - using the mechanism that Texas did to outlaw abortions. The Texas law lets people enforce it rather than the state. 

How likely is this to survive? And what does it mean to Texas' abortion law?

Ramsey pointed to the Supreme Court.

"The court hasn't knocked (the Texas law) down yet, they're a bit stumped on it," he said. "If that works on a constitutionally-protected right like abortion, other state's are looking at it and saying, maybe it could work for guns, maybe it could work for people burning coal."

San Antonio looking to shake off economic slowdown

San Antonio is looking ahead to a big economic comeback.  

About 300 conventions have been cancelled since the pandemic began. These are major moneymakers for the city. Is the loss of tax revenue hurting the San Antonio’s bottom line? 

Mayor Ron Nirenberg explained to Inside Texas Politics exactly when he expects tourism and conventions to return to pre-pandemic levels - and what that means to the city budget until then.

Dallas hopes to lure businesses away from the 'burbs

Texas' population has exploded over the last decade. 

Businesses relocating to the state have led to booms in cities and suburbs, and in North Texas, Dallas is trying to better position itself to land some of these companies. 

City leaders are tired of businesses landing in the suburbs. Councilman Tennell Atkins chairs the city's Economic Development Committee and said Dallas is kind of playing catch-up to other places across the state. 

He discussed what’s now underway at City Hall.

Rick Perry is running for Texas Governor. No, really. 

There is a guy named Rick Perry running for Texas governor. 

Not the former governor Rick Perry, but another guy with the same name from a small town outside Fort Worth. He was clearly recruited.

Gov. Greg Abbott's campaign strategist called it a stupid pet trick. The polls don't show it, but does this raise the chances of getting Greg Abbott into a runoff?

What's the point and will it work?  

Judges reel in AG Paxton

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals reined in Attorney General Ken Paxton.

He had prosecuted voter fraud cases on his own, but the all-Republican panel of judges ruled he cannot do it on his own - and he must get permission from local law authorities - because it violates the state constitution. 

Is this a factor in the primary election?

Watch the full episode of Inside Texas Politics below