Ironically, state Democrats did the same thing back in 2003, which stopped business in Austin until the lawmakers returned to town or when the session ended. More than 50 House Democrats at the time left the state for New Mexico to try to block a redistricting proposal supported by the Republican majority, which ultimately passed after a defector returned reinstating the quorum.
The majority of members plan to fly to Washington, D.C., on two private jets chartered for the occasion and use the time there to rally support for federal takeover of state elections.
According to the Texas Constitution, lawmakers staging this walkout are at risk of being arrested, because the Legislature requires a quorum of two-thirds of lawmakers be present to conduct state business in either chamber. Absent lawmakers can be legally compelled to return to the Capitol, and the Department of Public Safety can track them down.
The first time House Democrats staged this walk-out it resulted in Governor Abbott defunding the entire legislature, and Abbott kept his vow to call for a special session of the legislature, which began on July 8.
House Bill 3 and Senate Bill 1 would add new identification requirements for mail-in voting, ban early voting options, and add criminal penalties for breaking election code while empowering partisan poll watchers.
To block the current pending legislation, Democrats would have to remain away for more than 30 days since the special session was convened under the state’s constitution.