A controversial elections bill passed the Senate budget panel with almost no public testimony today, the measureโ€™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 shown 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.

โ€œI think itโ€™s an attack on our democracy,โ€ he said, calling the limiting of debate after a lengthy discussion of various proposed amendments โ€œabsurd.โ€

Alexander said he had little choice but to call for a vote as the meeting drew to a close because if the committee didnโ€™t vote today, the bill might have died as the legislative session comes to an end.

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