The Brief: Top Texas News for July 18, 2013

Gov. Rick Perry addresses the National Right to Life convention on June 27, 2013.
Gov. Rick Perry addresses the National Right to Life convention on June 27, 2013.

The Big Conversation

The national spotlight may fall on Texas once more as Gov. Rick Perry signs some of the strictest abortion measures in the country into law.

Perry on Thursday morning will hold a signing ceremony for House Bill 2, which includes provisions that would ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy and by some estimates close up to 90 percent of the state's abortion clinics.

The Legislature gave final approval to the measure on Friday after weeks of heated protests and a flood of national media attention brought on by Democratic state Sen. Wendy Davis' 11-hour filibuster of the legislation late last month during the first special session.

The signing of the bill, which supporters say will improve women's safety but opponents say tramples on women's rights, comes as abortion rights groups prepare to challenge the measure in court. As the Tribune's Shefali Luthra reported this week, the groups weighing legal challenges include Planned Parethood, the Center for Reproductive Rights and the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas.

Meanwhile, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst plans to capitalize on the signing by unveiling several endorsements from anti-abortion groups in Texas, including Texas Right to Life and the Texas Alliance for Life. Dewhurst, who faces a crowded and competitive GOP primary race in 2014, released a campaign video earlier this week heralding the bill's passage and has released another touting the new endorsements.

Culled

•    Former El Paso mayor John Cook may run for Texas Land Commissioner (El Paso Times): "Former El Paso Mayor John Cook will seek the Democratic nomination for Texas land commissioner in 2014, he told the El Paso Times Wednesday night. 'I think it's an embarrassment to the city of El Paso, being one of the largest cities in the United States, that we've never had a candidate elected to a statewide office,' Cook said."

•    Fundraising boast prompts sparring between potential Texas comptroller candidates (The Dallas Morning News): "Rep. Harvey Hilderbran is drawing criticism from a potential rival in the GOP primary to succeed Comptroller Susan Combs for boasts about campaign fundraising prowess. A recent money maneuver allowed Hilderbran, R-Kerrville, to suggest he had raised more than he actually did in the latest fundraising period. … An adviser to Sen. Glenn Hegar, R-Katy, accused Hilderbran of exaggerating. 'How can people trust Harvey Hilderbran to give an accurate revenue estimate if he can’t give an accurate report of his campaign finances?' said Hegar consultant Todd M. Smith."

•    Travis County DA Lehmberg to get $15,000 raise from state (Austin American-Statesman): "District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, who spent about three weeks in jail earlier this year, is getting a $15,000 raise next year, her largest boost in pay as an elected official. District attorneys in Texas are typically paid by the state, and their salary is tied to that of state district judges. Since 2005, that has been $125,000 a year. This spring, legislators approved a $15,000 annual increase for those judges and district attorneys — including Lehmberg."

Quote to Note: "Grow up." — San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro's response on Twitter to a racist tweet about a new Texas Monthly cover featuring him and his twin brother

Must-Read

Texas Tribune donors or members may be quoted or mentioned in our stories, or may be the subject of them. For a complete list of contributors, click here.