The Brief: Top Texas News for July 19, 2013

Gov. Rick Perry, surrounded by Republican lawmakers, signs House Bill 2 into law on July 18, 2013.
Gov. Rick Perry, surrounded by Republican lawmakers, signs House Bill 2 into law on July 18, 2013.

The Big Conversation

Sweeping new abortion restrictions have been signed into law, but the fight inside the Texas Capitol hasn't ended.

On Thursday, Gov. Rick Perry held a signing ceremony for House Bill 2, the controversial legislation that has put Texas at the epicenter of a national debate over abortion rights.

"It is a very happy, celebratory day," Perry, joined by a group of Republican lawmakers and other supporters of the legislation, said at the signing ceremony. "It is our responsibility and duty to give voice to the unborn, the individuals whose survival is at stake. This bill lives up to that responsibility."

The signing of the bill — which includes provisions that would ban abortion after 20 weeks and by some estimates close up to 90 percent of the state's abortion clinics — came a week after the measure won final approval in the Legislature, and almost a month after a filibuster by state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, helped kill an earlier version of the bill.

 

Though Davis and fellow Democrats couldn't defeat the bill in the second special session, the legislation still faces potential legal challenges. A number of groups, including Planned Parenthood, the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas and the Center for Reproductive Rights, are considering challenging the measure in court.

And the GOP's success passing the legislation hasn't stopped some Republicans from pushing for even more restrictions. As the Houston Chronicle reports, state Rep. Phil King, R-Weatherford, filed a bill on Thursday that would ban abortion after the detection of a fetal heartbeat, or at about six weeks.

With the end of the special session quickly approaching, however, the bill faces long odds.

Culled

•    House Sends Transportation Funding Plan to Senate (The Texas Tribune): "The Texas House on Thursday gave final passage to a measure to boost funding for transportation projects, though few members expect it to survive the Senate without significant changes. … If the Senate changes the measure as expected, a conference committee would need to be called for House and Senate members to work out the differences. The Senate is scheduled to convene again Friday."

•    Family Planning Clinics to Close, Citing Reduced Funds (TT): "Three Planned Parenthood family planning clinics in Southeast Texas announced plans Thursday to close at the end of August. The closures result from reduced family planning funds and the removal of Planned Parenthood from the state Women’s Health Program, said Melaney Linton, CEO of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast. While the closures were announced the same day as Gov. Rick Perry’s signing of omnibus abortion legislation, House Bill 2, the closures are 'a completely separate issue' from that new law, Linton said."

•    Before Iowa visit, Ted Cruz defends proposal for military sexual assault cases (Des Moines Register): "Possible 2016 presidential candidate Ted Cruz this morning rejected the accusation that he’s anti-military or a media grandstander for calling for changing how rape and sexual assault cases are handled in the U.S. military."

•    Abbott emphasizes UT roots as he wraps up first leg of gubernatorial campaign (Austin American-Statesman): "Former University of Texas quarterback Colt McCoy introduced Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott to a sweaty throng of several hundred supporters at Scholz Garten on Thursday evening — the last stop on a five-day, 10-city gubernatorial campaign kickoff tour — saying it’s time for a change. 'It’s been way too long since we had a Longhorn in the Governor’s Mansion,' said McCoy."

Quote to Note: "Finally, we'll have a truthful alternative to mainstream media." — Former U.S. Rep. Ron Paul in a Facebook post promoting his new self-titled media channel

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