Rep. Tommy Reynolds, the elections chair, said he was “numbed” by the action.
By Bobby Harrison
Daily Journal Jackson Bureau
JACKSON – In recent years, Republicans have criticized Democrats for killing voter identification bills in the Mississippi Legislature.
On Tuesday, the shoe was on the other foot. House Democrats were criticizing Republicans for killing in the Senate Elections Committee a bill that included a provision requiring people to display a photo identification to vote.
Sen. Joey Fillingane, R-Sumrall, said he voted to kill the legislation because it included many provisions passed by the House, such as early voting and an age exemption for senior citizens. Normally, the Senate committee members would amend the bill to take out the parts that they found objectionable.
But instead, the majority of the Elections Committee voted to kill the bill.
Since Tuesday was the deadline for the issue to be taken up in committee, photo ID appears dead unless it is revived later in the process by an often hard-to-achieve two-thirds vote.
House Apportionment and Elections Committee Chairman Tommy Reynolds, D-Water Valley, did not take up the voter ID bill passed by the Senate because, he said, to garner more support in the House he was trying to pass an “elections reform” bill that included not only voter ID, but other issues, such as early voting. The Senate bill did not include those other provisions.
“I’m numbed by what happened,” Reynolds said. “We were working in good faith, and I think we were close to an agreement.”
Fillingane, who is sponsoring a ballot effort to put the voter ID issue before the voters, said, “I think a majority of the Senate Elections Committee did not like all the House amendments.”
When asked why the committee did not take the objectionable parts out to keep alive an issue that Republicans have deemed a priority, he said that if someone had proposed that, he would have voted for it.
But the motion to kill the bill was made first.