Business coalitions urge Texas lawmakers to reject voting restrictions By Reuters

© Reuters.

By Jessica DiNapoli

(Reuters) -Two coalitions of business leaders on Tuesday urged Texas state lawmakers to reject any laws that would limit voters’ access to ballots, adding corporate America’s voice to a statewide debate over proposed voting restrictions.

American Airlines (NASDAQ:) Group Inc, based in Forth Worth, Texas, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (NYSE:) Co, Microsoft Corp (NASDAQ:), Inc (NYSE:) and Unilever (NYSE:) Plc are among more than 50 companies, chambers of commerce and business leaders in one of the coalitions, Fair Elections Texas.

“When more people participate in our democratic process, we will all prosper,” the group wrote in a letter released on Tuesday.

State legislators are considering two Republican-backed bills, one from the House and one from the Senate, that would limit early voting, change polling locations, restrict how voters can apply for mail-in ballots and give partisan poll watchers more power.

The House will bring its proposal to the floor on Thursday for a possible vote, according to a legislative schedule posted online on Tuesday. If the legislation is approved, a committee of lawmakers from the House and Senate would then work to reconcile differences between the bills.

Republicans have also introduced or passed voting limits in Georgia, Arizona and Florida, citing unsubstantiated claims by former President Donald Trump that the November election he lost to Democrat Joe Biden was stolen. Democrats have condemned the restrictions as an attack on democracy.

Top U.S. companies decried Georgia’s law, and Major League Baseball moved its All-Star game out of the state in protest.

In a second letter to Texas lawmakers, a group of about 175 Houston-area business and community leaders said the bills under consideration would “damage our competitiveness in attracting businesses and workers to Houston.”

The office of the state’s Speaker of the House, Republican Dade Phelan, did not return a call for comment.

After American Airlines first criticized one of the proposed bills in April, Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick accused American’s chief executive of failing to read it, which the airline denied.

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