Abortion bill goes before Senate this afternoon
The abortion fight that has engulfed the Texas Capitol this summer appears headed toward a dramatic conclusion today.
At 2 p.m., the state Senate will take up the sweeping abortion legislation that late last month fell victim to a filibuster by Sen. Wendy Davis, giving rise to two weeks of fiery protests and sustained national media attention.
The House approved the legislation — which would ban abortion after 20 weeks and potentially close up to 90 percent of the state's abortion clinics — on Wednesday, leaving only Senate approval standing between the bill and Gov. Rick Perry's desk.
Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst has said disruptive protests from the Senate gallery — the kind that helped Senate Democrats run out the clock on the bill the first time — will not be tolerated. Because Republicans have moved the bill along more quickly this time, the outnumbered Democrats also do not have the option of filibustering the legislation to death again, meaning the bill's passage is virtually assured.
Democrats, however, still plan to throw amendments at the bill, and the heated debate is likely to last well into the night.
Activists will also return to the Capitol today following a few days of protests outside of Austin. After rallies this week in Houston, Dallas and Fort Worth, the "Stand With Texas Women" bus tour, launched by Planned Parenthood, traveled on Thursday to San Antonio, where several hundred attendees gathered to hear from Davis and the city's mayor, Julián Castro, among others.
"We know that the real intent of this legislation is to ensure that women don't have any choice in the state of Texas, and we can't stand that," Castro told the crowd, according to the San Antonio Express-News.
The bus tour will also travel today to El Paso, Brownsville and McAllen.
• House, Senate at odds over TxDOT funding (Austin American-Statesman): "The Texas House and Senate, both seeking to raise money for highway spending, passed radically different measures Thursday to reach that goal. With the special session’s other two issues on their way to passage this week — abortion and juvenile justice — the question Thursday was which transportation funding approach would prevail, and when."
• Texas Democrats, Seeking Resurgence, May Struggle for Footing in 2014 (The Texas Tribune): "Given the beating that Democrats have taken over the last two decades, it is no surprise that they are staying out of the ring. Still, if no serious Democratic contender jumps in next year, the party will have given a pass to Republicans at a time of upheaval up and down the ballot."
• Special Election to Replace Strama Set for Nov. 5 (The Texas Tribune): "The race to serve out the remainder of former state Rep. Mark Strama's current term got an official election date Thursday as Gov. Rick Perry set a Nov. 5 special election."
Quote to Note: "The face of the pro-life movement [is] people out there every day embracing women, whether they decide to have an abortion or not. They love them. ... It is the movement of love." — Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum during a press conference on Thursday with Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst.
This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at http://www.texastribune.org/2013/07/12/brief-top-texas-news-july-12-2013/.