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The Brief: Top Texas News for March 3, 2011

During abortion-sonogram debate Wednesday, House Democrats brandished one of the few remaining weapons in their arsenal: the technicality.

State Rep. Carol Alvarado, D-Houston, during the abortion sonogram bill debate on March 2, 2011.

The Big Conversation:

During abortion-sonogram debate Wednesday, Democrats brandished one of the few remaining weapons in their arsenal: the technicality.

As lawmakers began debating the legislation — which would require doctors to perform sonograms on women seeking abortions at least 24 hours before the procedure — in sometimes graphic detail (a sonogram device made an appearance), talk turned to rules.

As the Tribune's Emily Ramshaw and Brandi Grissom reported, Democrats alleged that the House's State Affairs Committee, which heard the bill last week, had scheduled public testimony without proper notice. But Democrats also claimed the committee had taken testimony on abortion but not on the specific legislation. This, one theory goes, could leave the impression in records that the bill drew no opposition.

"If we allowed this to continue, everybody interested in the subject matter would get a false sense of reality," said Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, D-San Antonio, who raised his own objection to the committee's handling of the legislation.

Lawmakers decided to send the bill back to committee, where it was approved by a 9-3 vote. The bill will return to the full House for debate today.

Wednesday's events offered a preview of the types of tactics Democrats, outnumbered in both chambers, are likely to use in the coming months as they scrape to find ways to stall bills they oppose.


  • On Wednesday night, dramatic testimony from a paralyzed police officer shot in the face by an illegal immigrant hung over a House committee's hearing of a bill banning so-called sanctuary cities. 
  • Mexican President Felipe Calderón will meet with President Barack Obama at the White House today amid mounting tension between the U.S. and Mexico over the death of a U.S. agent and the release of WikiLeaks cables.
  • On this week's TribCast: Twitter and the governor, demographics, and innocence

"Obviously I want to be aware of what my constituents want, but at the same time I can't change my principles." — State Rep. Bill Callegari, R-Katy, whose district has grown by 71,000 Hispanics, a 250-percent increase, according to 2010 census figures


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