From Balanced Budgets to Criminal Justice Cuts

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Day 45 of the 82nd Texas Legislature

Two of Gov. Rick Perry’s emergency items saw some action yesterday. A House version of the pre-abortion sonogram bill requiring physicians to provide women with a sonogram 24 hours before an abortion was passed out of committee and will now move to the House floor where it will no doubt generate some lively debate. Meanwhile, the Senate approved a resolution calling on Congress to pass a balanced budget constitutional amendment. The chief justice of the Texas Supreme Court gave state lawmakers his take on criminal justice reform yesterday, while the Texas Department of Criminal Justice announced some major cuts. And I guess it’s true that Texans don’t take too kindly to strangers. A new poll shows that Texas voters support tougher immigration laws.    

Ultra (un)Sound

House Bill 15, a more extreme version of the Senate pre-abortion sonogram bill, was passed out of committee yesterday. The House State Affairs Committee hearing got real interesting with impassioned witnesses comparing the human fetus to eagle eggs and tuna fish. [Texas Observer]

Balancing Act

The Senate passed yet another of Perry’s emergency items—a joint resolution that demands for the U.S Congress to stop deficit spending and balance its budget. The resolution, passed 24-7, first asks nicely, but if nothing is done, it calls for a constitutional convention to add an amendment to the U.S. Constitution requiring the federal government to balance its budget. [Dallas Morning News]  [Austin American Statesman]

Bi-partisan Justice

Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson left party politics aside as he addressed a joint House-Senate session yesterday. In his speech, the Republican justice asked lawmakers to soften punishments for juvenile offenders and requested $20 million for legal aid funding in civil cases. [Texas Observer]

Criminal Injustice

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice is cutting a total of 555 jobs and completely eliminating its criminal reintegration program as part of its plan to cut $44 million. Critics fear the cuts will harm public safety and result in more offenders back in prison. [Houston Chronicle]

Don’t Take Kindly to Strangers

A new poll conducted by UT and the Texas Tribune shows that a majority of Texas voters support stricter immigration laws. Of the 800 respondents that participated in the survey, 53 percent said they supported automatic repeal of citizenship for U.S.-born children of undocumented immigrants and 55 percent strongly supported police checks on immigration status. [Texas Tribune]