The Big Conversation
A highly contentious provision stripped from a Senate abortion bill this week could soon be revived.
On Tuesday, state Sen. Glenn Hegar, R-Katy, dropped the measure — a ban on abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy — from an omnibus special session bill he filed that would tighten abortion restrictions in Texas. Hegar suggested that legislation without the controversial measure, which is based on contested science about when fetuses start to feel pain, would stand a better chance of advancing before the end of the special session.
As the Austin American-Statesman reports, however, conservative Republicans in the House are pushing to add the 20-week measure back onto the bill, which passed the Senate after a long and heated debate on Tuesday.
The House State Affairs Committee will take up the bill today.
If House Republicans resuscitate the measure that Senate Republicans backed away from, "we’ll know who was right," state Sen. Bob Deuell, R-Greenville, told the Statesman.
Even without the 20-week provision, Hegar's bill — which would would require abortions to be performed in ambulatory surgical centers, change regulations about admitting privileges for physicians who perform the procedure and require doctors who administer abortion-inducing drugs to do so in person — stirred fierce debate in the upper chamber. Though Republicans said the legislation would improve women's safety, Democrats accused Republicans of seeking to effectively cut off women's access to abortion — a debate likely to play out again as the House takes up the bill.
• Sen. Barbara Boxer plans hearing next week on West fertilizer explosion (The Dallas Morning News): "Sen. Barbara Boxer announced Wednesday that she will hold a hearing next week on the fertilizer plant blast in West that killed 15 people, flattened homes and heavily damaged schools. 'This is going to be very interesting. We’ll find out why they think this happened,' said Boxer, the California Democrat who chairs the Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee."
• Rare veto override sought to restore Public Integrity Unit funding (Austin American-Statesman): "As a Texas House committee considers Thursday whether to try to override Gov. Rick Perry’s veto of funding for the state’s Austin-based ethics unit, it will step into territory not explored for at least 34 years. And while officials acknowledged Wednesday the move is likely a long shot, they suggested that a parallel effort to have the Legislative Budget Board — which makes budget decisions when the Legislature isn’t in session — restore the funding could perhaps succeed."
• Immigration Splits Texas Republicans (The Wall Street Journal): "Texas lawmakers say it shouldn't come as a surprise that the state with the longest border with Mexico would find its representatives in Washington playing a large role in the immigration debate. But the different strategies of the state's 26 Republicans on Capitol Hill, and their divergent views, are providing an unusually vivid illustration of the challenge GOP party leaders face in trying to corral unified support for a rewrite of immigration laws."
• Texas delegation divided on farm bill that threatens food stamps (Houston Chronicle): "As the House of Representatives began whittling down 103 Farm Bill amendments on Wednesday, Texas lawmakers remain divided over the high-stakes, half-trillion-dollar legislation that could strip funds for food stamps."
Quote of the Day: "Take every one of those IRS agents and put them on our southern border." — U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz at a Tea Party rally in Washington on Wednesday
- Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito tosses first pitch at Rangers game, dishes on his love of baseball, The Dallas Morning News
- Immigration bill would ease path to U.S. for foreign physicians, Houston Chronicle
- How Ted Cruz's Father Shaped His Views On Immigration, NPR
- Board backs turning Astrodome into convention hall, The Associated Press
- Should Austin Bury I-35? Proposal to Reconnect City Gets New Look, KUT News
- New details emerge in dead investment manager’s financial dealings, Austin American-Statesman