GOP priority bail bill appears dead in Texas House after Democrats walk out on voting bill


Last Updated on May 31, 2021 – 4:20 AM CDT

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune: Read More

House Bill 20 would have in part made it harder for arrestees to get out of jail without cash.

Credit: Miguel Gutierrez Jr./The Texas Tribune

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A Texas Republican priority bill that would have made it harder for people arrested to bond out of jail without cash seemed dead on Sunday after House Democrats walked out of the chamber to block the passage of the GOP priority voting bill.

After the Senate and House passed significantly different versions of House Bill 20, a group of mostly Republican lawmakers negotiated behind closed doors this weekend to arrive at a sweeping bill to change how and if people should be released from jail before their criminal cases are resolved.

The Senate signed off on the new version of HB 20 Sunday evening. The House had until midnight to accept it, but because the negotiated bill had been filed late, it needed Democrats on board for it to move. And even before the midnight deadline, the bill was killed when Democrats walked out on Senate Bill 7, breaking a quorum and preventing a vote on the measure. The regular Legislative session ends Monday.

In a statement Sunday night, Gov. Greg Abbott said that changes to bail — which he had declared an emergency item for the Legislature — would be added to the agenda for a special legislative session. He did not specify when the session would be, though lawmakers are already expected to return in the fall to redraw the state’s political maps.

“It is deeply disappointing and concerning for Texans that neither will reach my desk,” Abbott said, referring to HB 20 and the Republican priority voting bill. “Legislators will be expected to have worked out the details when they arrive at the Capitol for the special session.”