For the no-good-deed-goes-unpunished file: Chairman Steve Ogden at this morning’s Senate Finance meeting stirred up a hornet’s nest when he offered a rider of $2 million contingent upon passage of the Voter ID bill.
Democrats were quick to point out that the bill carried a fiscal note of zero– in keeping with Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst’s request that the Senate not hold hearings on bills with fiscal implications – and suggested that Ogden’s proposal was a tacit admission that the bill would carry significant costs to the Secretary of State and to counties.
If Vote ID passes, “prudence would dictate that we provide the Secretary of State with additional funds to make sure everyone in the state of Texas knows the new rules (requiring identification at the polls),” Ogden reasoned.
“Will the fiscal note for the bill still be zero?” asked John Whitmire. Royce West suggested that the rider indicated the true cost of Voter ID was $2 million.
Ogden said he believed the fiscal note, but “I just think they (the Secretary of State’s office) need more (money).”
“That doesn’t sound like the chairman I know,” West said.
“Nobody’s perfect,” Ogden quipped.
The proposal prompted a testy exchange when Voter ID advocate Tommy Williams observed that “the very people who are complaining (about costs of the bill) are opposing what appears to be very generous funding.”
“What’s absurd is that someone is trying to have it both ways,” Whitmire shot back.