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From Redistricting Fights to the Sonogram Bill

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Day 39 of the 82nd Texas Legislature

The much anticipated census numbers are finally in and the redistricting fandango can now begin. Meanwhile, another one of Gov. Rick Perry’s emergency items is a step closer to becoming law. The much debated sonogram bill was passed in the Senate yesterday, angering pro-choice advocates and checking another one of the governor’s designated priorities off the list.  Anti-sanctuary city legislation may be next. Two new bills aimed at abolishing sanctuary cities were filed on Wednesday, though some police officers and sheriffs met at the Capitol yesterday to voice their discontent with the proposed immigration legislation. Perry’s idea to drop Medicaid has been replaced by a different approach that involves seeking waivers from the federal government. Animal rights advocates were also at the Capitol yesterday to make sure that dogs, cats and chickens had their voices heard.

1. The Census Sensation 

Well, the numbers are in—the census numbers—and it appears the state is becoming more Hispanic and more urban. The population grew by 20 percent over the past decade and almost two thirds of that growth can be attributed to the Hispanic population, which shot from 32 percent to 38 percent. But not everything is bigger in Texas. Populations shrunk for small, rural districts in West Texas as all them country folk move into the cities. It will take about a week for the Texas Legislative Council computer system to crunch the census data, and then the contentious process of re-drawing district lines will begin. [Texas Observer] [Houston Chronicle]

2. Sonogram Saga

“A Great Day for Women,” Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, said upon passage of his controversial sonogram bill—another one of Perry’s emergency items. The bill, which requires physicians to give a woman a sonogram and a verbal description of the image before an abortion, passed 21-10 in the Senate yesterday. The bill still has to pass in the House, but with a Republican super-majority awaiting in the lower chamber, the bill will most likely fly through. [Texas Observer

3. Five-0 Fiesta

Texas lawmen met Texas lawmakers at the Capitol yesterday to condemn proposed anti-immigration legislation. The police officers and sheriffs who came from all over the state argued that proposed legislation would create unfunded mandates for the entire criminal justice system, strain police resources and in the end be detrimental to public safety. [El Paso Times]

 4. Meditations on Medicaid

Texas is one of several states requesting a Medicaid waiver to allow for more flexibility within the program. The plan would save money by limiting Medicaid coverage, restricting mandatory benefits and reforming eligibility standards. The Obama administration, which has final say over such matters, will most likely disapprove of the idea. [Texas Tribune]

5. Puppy Lovers Unite 

Animal rights groups converged on the Capitol to support legislation that would regulate mass dog breeding and outlaw cockfighting. And who doesn’t love animals? Democrats and Republicans alike support the animal protection bills, but lawmakers may be too busy with balancing the budget and redistricting this session to take up the issue. [The Dallas Morning News]