The Brief: Top Texas News for July 1, 2013

A line of hundreds of protesters snakes through the Texas Capitol rotunda during the Senate filibuster on June 25, 2013.
A line of hundreds of protesters snakes through the Texas Capitol rotunda during the Senate filibuster on June 25, 2013.

The Big Conversation

Less than a week after an epic clash over abortion convulsed the Texas Capitol, the debate has returned.

At 2 p.m. today, the Legislature will convene for the second special session of 2013, which Gov. Rick Perry called after Democrats — led by state Sen. Wendy Davis of Fort Worth and aided by hundreds of boisterous protesters — defeated major abortion legislation last week in one of the most explosive political moments in recent state history.

Looking to capitalize on the national attention that the debate has drawn, protesters have planned dueling rallies at the Capitol today as lawmakers return to work. Though abortion rights supporters dominated the deafening protests at the Capitol last week, abortion opponents hope to counter the activism this time with a political display of their own.

As of midnight Monday, about 6,300 people had signed up on Facebook to attend a "Stand With Texas Women" abortion rights rally at the Capitol scheduled for noon, and more than 800 people had registered to attend a "Stand4Life" anti-abortion demonstration set for around the same time.

But Republicans, who have enough votes to pass the bill, have indicated that they'll move quickly enough this time to keep Democrats from holding up the legislation, which would ban abortion after 20 weeks and could close up to 37 of the state's 42 abortion clinics.

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who called the protesters last week an "unruly mob" and received much of the blame among Republicans for the bill's death, said over the weekend that any future disruptive protests during legislative proceedings would not be tolerated.

"Believe me," he said Saturday after speaking at the National Right to Life convention in Dallas. "I have spent most of my time between about 4 a.m. on Wednesday morning and through yesterday making sure that when I give the order … to clear the gallery, it gets done."

The state's Department of Public Safety wouldn't comment on security plans, but a spokeswoman said, "When necessary, we will adjust our security measures as a situation merits."

Meanwhile, Davis, whose filibuster of the bill on Tuesday incited the show of support from activists and captured national headlines, ended the biggest week of her political career on Sunday by appearing on all three major Sunday morning political shows

"We will fight as we begin the session again on Monday," Davis said on NBC's Meet the Press. "I don't think that we will concede that the battle is over."

On CBS's Face the Nation, she added: "I think really what's happening here ... is politicians are using this issue to boost their own political aspirations, their own political positions. And they're bullying women and their liberties — their personal, constitutionally guaranteed liberties — in the process."

Culled

•    Dewhurst Aide: Media Conducted Themselves With "Decorum" (The Texas Tribune): "After telling a conservative publication on Friday that members of the Texas press corps may have helped incite the crowd that shouted down a vote on abortion restrictions Tuesday night, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst’s staff reviewed video of the events and announced on Saturday that there is no evidence the media provoked the crowd. 'After hearing several reports of members of the media encouraging the crowd, Gov. Dewhurst said he would look into the matter,' said Travis Considine, a spokesman for Dewhurst. 'He’s had his staff review the tapes, and he is thankful to learn that the media conducted themselves in a manner consistent with the decorum of the Senate chamber.'"

•    Universities pitch $2.8 billion bond request to Perry one more time (Austin American-Statesman): "In what could be a last-ditch effort, public university officials and their advocates in the state Legislature are urging Gov. Rick Perry to add nearly $3 billion in construction bonds to the to-do list for the second special legislative session, which begins Monday. But the governor has not signaled any inclination to do so, and he did not include such funding in the topics he assigned lawmakers to address in the first special session."

•    Sen. Ted Cruz urges First Baptist Dallas to defend Christian principles (The Dallas Morning News): "Sen. Ted Cruz called on the faithful at First Baptist Dallas on Sunday to stand up and defend the Christian principles the nation was founded upon. 'Believing is not simply sitting aside and doing a polite little golf clap,' Cruz said. 'Believing is putting everything you have, your heart, soul, life, putting everything [into] standing for what’s right.'"

•    From Texas Statehouse to YouTube, a Filibuster Is a Hit (The New York Times): "Wendy Davis turned into a progressive political hero in the span of about 12 hours last Tuesday as a result of the stand (literally) that she took against a Texas Senate bill that would have placed strict new limits on abortions in that state. … But her abortion rights advocacy and her pink sneakers might have never gained national attention had she been in a state without a reliable live stream of the Legislature. Ms. Davis’s 11-hour filibuster inadvertently illuminated the stark technological differences that exist from state to state when it comes to broadcasting the public’s business."

Quote of the Day: "Are you kidding? No, I’m delighted." — Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst to The Dallas Morning News on state Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, challenging him for re-election

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