'Amber Alert' issued -- for on-the-run Texas lawmakers
'It is a disgrace to run and hide'
Tuesday, May 13, 2003 Posted: 3:54 AM
EDT (0754 GMT)
AUSTIN, Texas (CNN) -- The political version of the Amber Alert was posted for 53 Texas legislators who fled the state Capitol to avoid a vote that could cost Democrats seven congressional seats.
Without the Democrats present, the Republican-controlled House does not have the two-thirds quorum needed for a vote on legislation to redraw congressional districts.
News reports late Monday quoted leaders of the missing Democrats as saying they are gathered across the state line in Ardmore, Oklahoma, out of reach of Texas Rangers who have been ordered to arrest them and return them to the House chamber.
A bulletin was posted Monday on the Texas Department of Public Safety Web site -- the same one used to alert citizens to missing children and wanted criminals -- asking for help in locating the missing lawmakers.
"The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS
) is asking the public for assistance in locating 53 Texas legislators who have disappeared," the bulletin read. "Anyone who has information regarding the current whereabouts of the legislators listed below is asked to call 1-800-525-5555."
"Under the Texas Constitution, the majority of members present in session in the House can vote to compel the presence of enough members to make a quorum," it read. "Members of the House did so this morning and directed the Sergeant-at-Arms of the House and the DPS
to locate the absent members and bring them back to Austin."
The Web site then names the 53 missing Democrats.
A report in The Austin American-Statesman newspaper Tuesday morning said the group was gathered in the Holiday Inn near the Texas state line in Ardmore, Oklahoma, and that a news conference was planned for Tuesday.
Republicans took control of the Texas House in November for the first time since Reconstruction. With 88 Republican members in the 150-member body, they still need at least a dozen Democrats present for a quorum. Just three Democrats remained at the Capitol on Monday, the newspaper said.
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