AUSTIN (KXAN) — He’s made his rounds at the Texas Capitol, and now the Texas House Sergeant-at-Arms is expanding his search for absent Democrats Friday and checking their home addresses in an effort to reach a quorum so voting can occur. One of the bills before the Texas Legislature during this second special session has to do with changes to the state’s election rules and is the main reason Democrats cite for skipping the session.
Both the Texas House and Senate are controlled by Republicans, who have enough votes to pass legislation without the Democrats. But, they need them there to reach a quorum, which allows them to do business such as voting. The House needs two-thirds of its members, or 100 people, present to reach a quorum.
Local law enforcement is also assisting with the search. If they find anyone, they can take them into custody and take them to the Texas House chamber. They do not face any jail time or fines, as this is a civil arrest which the Texas Supreme Court has recently upheld as allowed. Under Texas House rules, it may “compel the attendance of absent members, in such manner and under such penalties as each House may provide.”
On Wednesday, the Texas House Sergeant-at-Arms walked around the state Capitol and began serving civil arrest warrants to the offices of 52 absent Democrats.
A spokesperson for House Speaker Dade Phelan, who signed those warrants earlier this week, said “We are not commenting on specifics of this effort,” on Friday.