Hot List: Day 93 of the Legislature


The Lead:

Nothing brings out the furor at the Capitol like a debate over abortion. And we may see plenty of it this afternoon when the House State Affairs Committee will hear two major abortion bills. The most controversial one is Republican Jodie Laubenberg’s “fetal pain” bill, HB 2364, which would ban abortions after 20 weeks, with few exceptions. The bill is built around the controversial premise that fetuses at 20 weeks of gestation can feel pain, a notion that no reputable scientific study has yet found true.

In the same hearing, the State Affairs Committee is scheduled to hear Houston Republican Sarah Davis’ bill that would remove language linking breast cancer to abortion in mandated state materials given to abortion facilities. That supposed link is not only unfounded, recent scientific research has disproven it.

Yesterday’s Headlines:

1. Sen. Dan Patrick pulled out all the stops defending his school voucher bill. The Observer‘s Patrick Michels reports: “A cardinal, a bishop and a rabbi walked into the Senate Education Committee this morning” to endorse Patrick’s voucher plan to create private school scholarships out of business tax money.

2. Senators discussed the state water plan in the Senate Natural Resources Committee. Colorado River basin rice farmers faced down the Highland Lakes communities and the city of Austin, as the Observer‘s Forrest Wilder reports.

3. In the House Transparency committee, members of the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas answered to committee members’ questions about CPRIT’s recent rebranding move, as legislators continued their ongoing efforts to reform the troubled institution.  

Line of the day:

“[Amarillo Bishop Patrick] Zurek recalled the Catholic Church’s proud history of openness and transparency. ‘We have never hidden any records,’ he said, ‘in any diocese that I have been in.'” —The Observer‘s Patrick Michels writing about yesterday’s voucher debate in Senate Ed.

What We’re Watching Today:

1. Women’s rights are a hot topic in the House State Affairs Committee today, with a bill on fetal pain that would limit abortions after 20 weeks, and a bill that would limit references in state materials that link breast cancer with abortion.

2. Sen. John Carona’s bill that would create the Texas Gaming Commission is up in the Senate Business and Commerce Committee. Gambling supporters just keep rolling the dice.

3. Sen. Wendy Davis has a bill up in the Senate Economic Development Committee that would require an audit of Gov. Rick Perry’s  Texas Enterprise Fund. That hearing comes two days after a Texans for Public Justice report found that companies receiving Enterprise Fund grants donated more than $3 million to the state’s stop officials.

4. Rep. Senfronia Thompson’s bill on the governor retaining authority when out of state hits the House floor today. The bill would specify who is in control if disaster strikes and the governor is out of the state. So basically, if Kim Jong-Un makes it to Austin we’re all prepared.