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The Brief: Top Texas News for March 8, 2011

Deadlock over two competing bills could block abortion-sonogram legislation's path to the governor's desk.

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The Big Conversation:

Deadlock over two competing bills could block abortion-sonogram legislation's path to the governor's desk.

Last month, the Senate passed its own version of the abortion bill, which would require a doctor to perform a sonogram on a woman before administering an abortion. On Monday, the House gave final approval to its own version of the legislation.

The Senate bill said the doctor must perform the sonogram at least two hours before the procedure and included exemptions for victims of rape or incest. Under the stricter House bill, which includes no such exemptions, doctors must perform the sonogram 24 hours before the procedure.

Lawmakers would usually meet in a conference committee to smooth out any differences, but because two different versions of the legislation were passed, one chamber must get on board with the other's.

"Someone has to blink," said the House version's author, state Rep. Sid Miller, R-Stephenville, according to the Austin American-Statesman.

Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, author of the Senate version, also stood his ground. "There is a sticking point on the rape and incest provision," Patrick said, according to The Dallas Morning News. “That is an issue the Senate will insist upon.”

Patrick said any House attempts to force through its version could endanger the bill. "The way they have managed this has left a lot of people scratching their heads," he said.

Culled:

  • In a radio ad set to start airing first in Corpus Christi, House Democrats go after Republicans and Gov. Rick Perry for their proposed budget cuts, specifically to public education. "Education is the key to our children's future, but Republicans don’t agree," says a voice in the ad. "They've controlled Texas government for years, and they’ve wrecked our state budget. Now, they want to close schools, cut teachers and crowd 35 kids or more into classrooms."
  • State Sen. John Carona, D-Dallas, has introduced a bill that would move oversight of the state's Enterprise and Emerging Technology funds from Gov. Rick Perry to two appointed committees. Carona's filing comes after months of news reports that have questioned whether the governor awarded grants to political donors and a recent Dallas Morning News story revealing that the technology fund's former director profited on private business deals while running the fund.
  • Chris Traylor, head of the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services, laid out the grave situation facing Texas' nursing homes at a House committee hearing Monday: "I am unaware of any business model that runs on a relatively small margin that could accept a 37 percent reduction in one year and continue to operate," he said.

Father’s voice: "So, honey, what did you learn today?" Daughter’s voice: "Nothing, daddy." — A line from the Texas House Democratic Campaign Committee new radio ad hitting Republicans for their proposed budget cuts to public education

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