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PNS Daily News- February 15, 2019 


Shutdown averted and a national emergency declaration; A push in Iowa for virtual caucus attendance for 2020 primaries; and concerns about legislation that could hide oil pipeline records. Those stories and more in today’s news.

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Historic Hearing on Voting Rights Today In U.S. House

A sweeping bill in the U.S. House would expand access to the polls and limit the influence of money in politics. (Gutzemberg/iStockphoto)
A sweeping bill in the U.S. House would expand access to the polls and limit the influence of money in politics. (Gutzemberg/iStockphoto)
January 29, 2019

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The House Judiciary Committee is holding a hearing today on the "For the People Act," the first bill introduced by Democrats since they took control of the House of Representatives.

House Resolution 1 would make it a lot easier to vote by removing a number of state-level restrictions. Leigh Chapman, director of the voting rights program at the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, said this is a true democracy-reform bill.

"The bill would make Election Day a holiday and create nationwide automatic voter registration, which could actually get 50 million more voters on the rolls,” Chapman said. “It would also have provisions restoring the right to vote for people with felony convictions, and that would get 6.1 million more voters on the rolls."

The bill also would try to limit the dominance of big money in politics by strengthening disclosure requirements.

Multiple states including Missouri take a "use it or lose it" approach and purge inactive voters, something HR 1 would prohibit. Missouri also removes voters whose legal names do not match exactly with the state voter list. The Show-Me State currently does not have early voting and requires voters to opt-in rather than automatically being registered when they visit the Department of Motor Vehicles.

HR 1 would set a national standard of two weeks for early voting, as well as weekend and evening voting. Chapman noted a number of red-state legislatures have passed laws to restrict voting in recent years.

"Opponents of democracy have really worked to silence the voices of Americans by voter-registration restrictions, strict voter ID laws and purges of the voter rolls,” she said.

HR 1 is expected to pass the House easily, but it may not get a vote in the Senate because Majority Leader Mitch McConnell sees it as a partisan move, even calling it the "Democrat Politician Protection Act."

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - MO