House Panel Approves Repeal of Photo ID Law

Legislation repealing the requirement of a photo ID for voting was approved Wednesday by a House panel had killed other Democrat-sponsored bill to make smaller changes in the current law.
State Rep. Bob Ramsey, R-Maryville, and Rep. Kent Williams of Elizabethton, the Legislature’s only independent, joined three Democrats on the House State and Local Government Subcommittee to make passage possible.
Three Republicans on the committee voted no and another, Rep. Jim Cobb of Spring City, was absent.
Ramsey said afterwards that he was being consistent, since he was one of the few Republicans to vote against requiring a photo ID for voting when the Legislature enacted the law last year. Williams had also voted against the measure last year.
“My understanding is there may be some impediment to voting for some people (with the photo ID requirement),” said Ramsey.
State Election Coordinator Mark Goins, who watched the vote, afterwards said he was concerned the people hearing about the subcommittee vote could think the photo ID law has now been repealed and that would hinder the “education effort” to make voters familiar with the new law.
“It has a long way to go (to pass) and I don’t think that’s going to happen,” said Goins.
Virtually all other Republicans have backed the photo ID law and, since the GOP has a strong majority, the repeal bill sponsored by House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner of Nashville (HB2176) is widely expected to fail further along in the process – probably next week when it goes before the full State and Local Government Committee.
The subcommittee, in fact, voted down several other bills proposed by Democrats to revise the law without actually repealing it.
These included bills to legalize new formers of photo identification, including college student Ids and identification cards issued to employees of city and county governments. Both those identifications are now prohibited for use in voting. Republican leaders say they are too easy to fake.
Another rejected Democratic bill would have exempted persons over age 65 from the photo ID requirement for voting.
There was one other Democratic success, a bill by House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh, D-that would allow photographs to be made of voters at the polling place if they had no photo ID. The photographed voters would then be allowed to cast their ballots without casting a provisional vote, as required under current law.
The vote on Fitzhugh’s bill (HB2062) was 4-3 as Williams teamed with all three Democrats on the panel in favor of the bill. Ramsey voted no with two other Republicans. But two other Republicans were absent.
Afterward the Democratic successs, House Speaker Beth Harwell came into the committee to assure Republicans had a majority to kill the other Democratic bills. House rules allow the speaker to vote on any committee or subcommittee. But Harwell had left by the time Turner’s repeal bill came up.

One thought on “House Panel Approves Repeal of Photo ID Law

  1. Donna Locke

    The committees and subcommittees are poorly stacked and questionably chaired to begin with. The business lobby always has to have its puppets in control, and those lawmakers are often the ones who can’t be counted on in some showdowns.

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