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Hundreds of Texans voice opinion on new election bills in House, Senate committees

Nearly 250 people signed up to testify in the Senate State Affairs Committee. After more than 10 hours of discussion and debate, about 100 people still had to speak.

AUSTIN, Texas — On Saturday, hundreds of Texans spoke on Senate Bill 1 and House Bill 3 in their respective committee hearings.

Both bills address changes to election and voting laws, mostly limiting access and opportunity to vote in Texas elections. SB 1, filed by Sen. Bryan Hughes, has mostly the same language as Hughes' regular-session election bill, Senate Bill 7. 

Democrats in the state House broke quorum and blocked the SB 7 vote to happen by walking out of the Capitol back in May. Lawmakers admitted there were parts of the bill that should not have been included in the final version. 

In regard to SB 1 and HB 3 of the Special Session, Democratic lawmakers said another walkout is not off the table.

RELATED: Fighting a bill with a bill: Senate Dems push back on Republican election reform bill

"I think Democrats should do and we will do anything necessary to prevent [SB 1] from becoming law," State Sen. Borris Miles (D-Houston) said outside the Senate Committee on State Affairs hearing regarding SB 1. "Leaving is on the table."

In an effort to bring more voices to the hearing, Miles invited two busloads of constituents to speak on SB 1. 

RELATED: Committee hearings on Republican-backed election bills underway at Texas Capitol

Throughout the day, many speakers brought up points both in support and opposition to the voter bills. Those opposed said it pushes voter suppression by making it harder for people across nearly every demographic to vote. Those in support mostly adhered to the discussion surrounding mail-in ballots and poll watchers.

The Senate Committee on State Affairs started their hearing addressing SB 1 and SB 31, which addresses voter identification and registration, started just after 11 a.m. Saturday morning. The House Select Committee on Constitutional Rights and Remedies started their hearing at 8 a.m. Saturday morning with bills on bail reform, then went into HB 3 discussion around 5:30 p.m. on Saturday night, finally starting public testimony just before 10:30 p.m.

After being voted out of committee on Sunday morning, HB 3 will go to the full House chamber. SB 1 will go to the full Senate chamber after being voted out of committee on Sunday afternoon.

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