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Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, Unilever, Patagonia, and two dozen other companies are calling less than a month in the legislature – and the Republicans in Texas are splitting up which package of proposals could cross the finish line – asking lawmakers not to add new ones Restrictions to enact voting.
In the biggest setback in business to date against the GOP’s legislative offer to tighten the state’s already restrictive voting rules, national corporations joined a statement in which they expressed their opposition to local corporations and several local chambers of commerce on Tuesday LGBTQ, Hispanic and Black members of represent the business community.
“We stand together as a bipartisan coalition calling on all elected leaders in Texas to support reforms that make democracy more accessible and to oppose changes that would restrict voters’ access to voting papers,” the companies wrote in their letter. “We urge business and citizens to join us while we urge lawmakers to uphold our always elusive core democratic principle: equality. By supporting a stronger trustworthy democracy, we will boost our economy. “
The statement does not deal with specific laws, rather it comes from the Texas Republicans’ advocacy of bills in the name of “electoral integrity” despite little or no evidence of widespread fraud and warnings from attorneys and attorneys, many of whom are disproportionate would harm voters of the color.
Following the recent adoption of new restrictions in Georgia, large corporations responded to criticism for staying out of this struggle by largely joining forces on joint statements broadly expressing their opposition to election changes that make voting difficult.
In Texas, American Airlines, headquartered in Fort Worth, and Dell Technologies, headquartered in Round Rock, have voiced their opposition to certain Republicans’ legislative proposals that would further restrict voting in the state.
The airline, which also signed Tuesday’s statement, was targeting Senate Bill 7, one of the most comprehensive voting laws of the year, which governs the rules and hours of early voting, the way voters submit requests to vote by mail and the distribution of polling stations is restricted among other things in different urban areas. Dell has spoken out against House Bill 6, which makes it a crime in state prison for local election officials to distribute unsolicited requests to vote by mail. Voters must help indicate the reason a voter needs help with voting, even if it is for medical reasons, and increases criminal liability for the treatment of election observers by election workers.
Microsoft previously raised concerns about HB 6’s ban on proactively emailing voting requests – an initiative taken by several Texas counties last year as voters tried to avoid the dangers of a face-to-face vote during a pandemic .
SB 7 and HB 6, both favored by the leadership in each chamber, are at the heart of Texas Republican efforts this year to improve post-2020 election restrictions and near-record turnout.
Both bills have been severely pushed back by local leaders, Democrats, civil rights groups and advocates for people with disabilities. This collective opposition has focused on concerns that legislation will almost certainly make it difficult for groups to vote. Texas electoral rules have long been marginalized – skin color voters, disabled voters, voters with limited English language skills – or against state protections for those voters.
Some of these proponents have urged American companies to join their efforts to keep bills from advancing in the Republican-controlled legislature – a campaign that dates back to 2017 when companies were looking for a so-called “bathroom bill” shouting to restrict transgender Texans Access to public facilities contributed to the failure of this measure to be implemented. However, the response of companies to the proposed voting restrictions in Texas has so far not been sufficient.
As the battle over new restrictions shifted from Georgia to Texas, the state’s Republican leadership quickly condemned companies examining the proposals, which were examined during the 2021 legislature.
Governor Greg Abbott, who made “electoral integrity” a legislative priority, withdrew from the ceremonial first field of the Texas Rangers’ home opening game and said he would boycott all other Major League Baseball events because of his decision to go into space -Star Game from Georgia in response to new voting restrictions. Abbott called it “utterly ridiculous” for the MLB to comment on Georgian law, and in a television interview with Fox News said he was sending a message to Texas-based companies and others moving to the state – and the financial ones Incentives for this are often used to entice them.
Lt. Governor Dan Patrick angrily targeted American Airlines during a press conference in which he called those who raised concerns about voter suppression “liars’ nest”.
“Texans are fed up with companies that don’t share our values and try to dictate public order,” Patrick said in a separate statement responding to American Airlines’ opposition to SB 7.
At Texas House, the possible retaliation for companies that opposed the bills has so far been largely symbolic. Republicans sought to feed the dispute into the Chamber’s scrutiny of the state’s massive budget bills last month by proposing changes to withhold state funds from companies that publicly opposed laws “related to electoral integrity”. These proposals were ultimately kept out of the budget.
These threats, coupled with Republicans’ demands that companies stay out of political disputes outside of their realm of responsibility, did not deter the companies that signed the letter. Patagonia even shared its own analysis of “Voter Suppression Legislation”, which includes SB 7, HB 6, and several other bills, with other companies considering opposing the proposed restrictions.
“Businesses need to focus more than just for profit … and strengthening their communities can be really good for business, and we see that as a good trend,” said Corley Kenna, spokeswoman for Patagonia. “I hope that more companies will comment on these issues, especially because I think it is important that companies take action where the government seems to be falling short.”
In Houston, the proposed voting restrictions shared the region’s best-known Chamber of Commerce with some members of the Greater Houston Partnership, who urged their leadership to denounce parts of SB 7 and HB 6 over the organization’s commitment to combating racial injustice. As passed in the Senate, SB 7 would ban various voting initiatives in Harris County, including extended early voting hours and drive-through voting, which proved popular with color voters, and would require the county to re-establish its polling stations outside of Houston’s urban core distributed. that has more Hispanic and black residents, to suburban areas that have more white residents.
The leadership of the influential organization ultimately decided not to comment on the bills. On Tuesday, a group of 175 business executives, including 10 members of the partnership’s board of directors, wrote to House Speaker Dade Phelan to reject portions of the legislation, the Houston Chronicle reported.
According to the current state of the legislation, SB 7 is a duplicate version of HB 6 following a vote by the parliamentary election committee to invalidate and rewrite the Senate’s legislation. However, the Senate can revive its priorities. The whole House may already debate the bill this week, but the final version of SB 7 will likely be decided behind closed doors.
Both Patrick and Phelan have separately defended the proposals as reforms to make elections more uniform across the state. But Patrick viewed SB 7 as a legislative priority, while Phelan said he supported HB 6’s proposals to replace the original language in Senate legislation.
The restored SB 7 will likely be directed to a conference committee composed of members from the two chambers who will work to consolidate the differences between the two versions of the bill – and possibly bring back its original restrictions.
In a statement Monday, Senator Bryan Hughes, the Mineola Republican who drafted the Senate bill, welcomed his progress in the House of Representatives and waved at the possibility of an agreement on the bill.
“We’re working together in this process and we trust that the end product of SB7 will be a great piece of collaboration law that makes it easy to vote and hard to cheat,” said Hughes.
Disclosure: Dell, Greater Houston Partnership, and Microsoft have sponsored The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, impartial news organization funded in part by donations from members, foundations, and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the journalism of the Tribune. A full list can be found here.