AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Lt. Governor Dan Patrick held a press conference Tuesday to renew his call for the Texas legislature to pass Senate Bill 7, and rebuked companies like Texas-based American Airlines for voicing their opposition.
“The bill is needed because Americans no longer trust the system,” Patrick called it an election integrity bill that would reassure Texas voters that the system is safe.
It includes limiting hours of voting from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., bans all forms of drive-thru voting and bans mail-in ballot drop-off boxes.
“Consistent rules statewide will ensure Texas continues to be able to count our ballots on time. Mr. American Airlines, you okay with that?” Patrick quipped at the corporation.
Patrick also defended several points of the bill that have stirred up national controversy.
“We have not changed any dates on early voting. It still starts two weeks before the election. 12 days of early voting, we have not changed mail-in voting for seniors or people who are disabled,” Patrick said. But, the bill would get rid of the drop-off option for seniors and those with disabilities, and would also allow poll watchers to record anyone receiving assistance with their ballot out of suspicion of fraudulent activity.
While the Lt. Gov. touted the bill as election security, though, several voting advocacy groups and Texas Democrats held a press conference calling the bill voter suppression.
“This legislation is not only about voter suppression, it’s about voter intimidation, with provisions like allowing for the filming, videotaping of voters who are suspected of committing some sort of fraud,” former Democratic Secretary of HUD Julian Castro said at a separate conference Tuesday.
“We’re here to publicly condemn racist anti-voter legislation,” Charlie Bonner with MOVE Texas said.
“His conference is rooted in conspiracy theories and lies about our election, we’re here to speak the truth: Racist voter suppression is bad for business,” Bonner continued.
The groups applauded companies for standing up for voting rights, but asked for even more.
“Use some of the incredible resources, they have their marketing expertise…If AT&T can convince folks to upgrade a phone every few months, certainly they can convince folks that voter suppression is bad,” Cliff Albright with Black Voters Matter said.
Lt. Governor Patrick said the opposite, telling businesses to stay out of politics.
“They’re moving here from everywhere, because they’re being taxed out of blue states, or overly regulated. Then you come here, and you want to criticize us,” Patrick said, “Don’t, on one hand, say thank you, Texas, and on the other hand, slap us in the face. Not gonna put up with it anymore.”
However, when asked, Patrick said he would not consider punishment for any business that voiced their opinion.
“This is not a quid pro quo. We don’t punish people because they disagree with this,” Patrick said.
Meanwhile, Democrats said now is the time to push more corporations to join the discussion, as the bill has made it out of the Senate, but has not yet moved onto the House.
“The difference for these companies is that whereas in Georgia, they came out against it after the fact, here in Texas, we still have a chance to make sure that this does not become law,” Castro said Tuesday.