A controversial elections bill passed the Senate budget panel with almost no public testimony today, the measure’s last stop before it goes to the floor for final approval.
A massive amendment brought the measure more in line with the House version while keeping in place a provision that would cut the early voting period in half, which the House version does not do.
Chairman J.D. Alexander called for an 11:55 time-certain vote at 11:52, before any member of the public had a chance to speak on the amended bill. One person did get to speak, before the panel took a vote without debate from members, while 36 others who had showed up to oppose the measure did not get a chance to speak.
Hank Hollis of the Working Families Lobby Corps said he had come from Tampa to speak against the bill.
“I think it’s an attack on our democracy,” he said, calling the limiting of debate after lengthy discussion of various proposed amendments “absurd.”
Alexander said he had little choice but to call for a vote as the meeting drew to a close, because if the committee didn’t vote today, the bill might have died as the legislative session comes to an end.