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Organizations speak out against voting bills making way through Texas Legislature

Organizations speak out against voting bills making way through Texas Legislature (Photo: CBS Austin)
Organizations speak out against voting bills making way through Texas Legislature (Photo: CBS Austin)
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The hotly debated bills centered on voter security are back in focus Friday. Various groups, including the Texas NAACP, are speaking out against several bills moving through the legislature that could impact voters of color.

The Texas NAACP is joined by the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) and the League of Women Voters for the conference. They are creating a specialized task force aimed at stopping these bills.

The bills in question are House Bill 6 and Senate Bill 7. HB 6 would criminalize the distribution of vote-by-mail applications if a voter did not request one. It also makes people with disabilities or non-English speakers disclose why they need help. SB 7 cuts early voting hours and limits mail-in voting, and it could also change the number of voting machines in major urban centers.

If passed, they’d do things like limit mail-in and curbside voting, prohibit clerks from soliciting voters to vote by mail and require voters to provide documentation proving their disabilities.

However, those against the bill say it’ll only suppress voter rights—particularly for women and minorities.

Now they’re calling on Texas businesses to use their wallets to prevent the legislation from being passed.

On Friday afternoon, several groups held a press conference to discuss these concerns. In a statement, the Texas state director of LULAC referenced the lawsuit filed in Georgia based on similar legislation. That follows last week's demonstration inside the Capitol aimed at showing how young voters of color feel about these bills. 300,000 rose petals showered the Capitol floor showing how many Latino and black voters become eligible every year, and who these bills could disproportionately impact.

RELATED: Youth activists spread rose petals at Texas Capitol to protest 'election integrity' bills

“What we’re seeing is a pattern of criminalizing things that should be embraced by our society," said Aaron Gonzales, a community organizer with the non-profit Jolt. "The right to vote and encouraging people to have their voice is something that only strengthens our democracy.”

HB 6 passed in committee last week and is a step closer to the House floor for a full vote. Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick has been a big advocate for SB 7. He says voter integrity is a top priority this year. Despite the backlash, Patrick says these bills will ensure voting in Texas is consistent and secure across the state. He took to Twitter to share his thoughts on businesses, like American Airlines, that have spoken up against it.

According to state Rep. Ron Reynolds, D-Fort Bend, an independent research group did a study on what would happen if the bill was passed into law.

Representative Reynolds says Texas could potentially lose $16.7 billion to the state economy by 2025 and lose nearly 150,000 jobs.

In Georgia-- similar legislation passed into law has led to losses in revenue.

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Including Major League Baseball’s decision to pull this summer’s All-Star game.

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