Politics
7:15 pm
Mon July 1, 2013

Abortion Bill Scheduled for Texas House Panel Hearing Tuesday

After the sound of the gavel, the Texas House marked the start of the second 2013 special session, adjourning less than an hour later. 

But, before the lower chamber adjourned, a number of Democrats lined up at the back microphone to question what lies ahead for HB 2, a bill that would restrict abortions in Texas.

State Rep. Chris Turner, D-Grand Prairie, asked whether the committee taking up the abortion legislation -- the House State Affairs -- could travel around the state like the redistricting committees did in the first 2013 special session. 

"If members wish to suggest to a committee chairman if he or she is hearing a bill that impacts people's constitutional rights across the state of Texas, it would be appropriate for members to approach that chair and suggest a series of field hearings?" he asked.

To which the presiding speaker, State Rep. Linda Harper-Brown, R-Irving, replied, "The good news is, Mr. Turner, the members of the Texas House have never been shy of asking the chairman for certain actions."

But that pushed adjournment further, as more questions arose. 

"There are proposals that have been filed that are perceived to be taking away some people's constitutional rights," State Rep. Mike Villareal, D-San Antonio, said. "My question is what are the procedures that a minority can exercise to prevent the majority from stripping away their constitutional rights?"

State Rep. Senfronia Thompson, D-Houston, asked the chair of the House State Affairs Committee, State Rep. Byron Cook, R-Corsicana, to clarify the meeting scheduled for July 2.

At 3:30 p.m. on July 2, the House State Affairs Committee will hear public testimony on House Bill 2  by Republican State Rep. Jodie Laubenberg, R-Parker. The measure resembles the restrictive abortion bill that died at the end of the first special session, Senate Bill 5.

It would ban abortion after 20 weeks, require abortion facilities to adopt standards of ambulatory care facilities or get shut down and also require that physicians who perform the procedure have admitting privileges in a hospital within 30 miles of an abortion facility. 

Rep. Cook confirmed the public can testify until midnight.

"Then we will end the public testimony on the bill," he said. "I've told all the interested parties on both sides of the issue that if they want certain people to testify...my committee clerk will make sure to get them in line where they can testify."

He did not confirm whether the panel will vote on the bill after testimony or a few hours later Wednesday morning. The full House stands adjourned until 2 p.m. on July 8. 

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