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Photo by KUT News

UPDATE, 11:07 p.m.:

After nearly 12 hours of debate, about a dozen "points of order" and more than 60 amendments the House has given initial approval of a voter ID bill.  The highly partisan bill has one more vote in the House before heading to a conference committee to reconcile the House and Senate versions of the bill.  Democrats have tried to block the bill for several years, saying it could lead to voter suppression among minority voters.  As the debate finally wrapped up Republicans had four of the party's Hispanic members speak in favor of the bill.

The Texas Tribune

The House Budget Bill is on its way to the full House for a vote.  

Image Courtesy of Bexar Republican http://www.flickr.com/photos/bexarrepublican/

Texas Railroad Commissioner Michael Williams told The Associated Press he’s planning to resign from his current position April 2 to enter the 2012 race for the U.S. Senate.

Williams started his career in the Commission in 1998 when he was appointed by then-Governor George W. Bush. His biography also introduces him as “the first African American in Texas history to hold an executive statewide elected post.”

picture by KUT

UPDATE, 1:50 p.m.:  A point of order on Voter ID bill has been sustained. The bill is headed back to committee for a clean-up. The language in the bill said "Days"; the bill's analysis said "Business Days," so the bill was sent back to clarify the discrepancy.

Photo by Nathan Bernier

As state lawmakers continue to brainstorm ideas for generating revenue to close a budget gap as large as $27 billion, one proposal suggests putting banner advertisements on state government websites. House Bill 682 would allow state agencies, departments, boards and commissions - except higher education institutions - to lease advertising space on their websites.

Photo from Dan Neil's campaign website. http://www.texansfordan.com/

Dan Neil has withdrawn from the battle for Texas House District 48. 

In a statement released this afternoon, Neil said,

Texas Tribune

The Texas House Committee on State Sovereignty took up a handful of bills today - all with the stated goal of protecting Texas from the Federal Healthcare law.  The bills use different tactics to nullify the federal law.  With one by Rep.

Image by Liang Shi for KUT News.

A pair of House committee hearings are attracting a lot of interest at the State Capitol this afternoon.

The House Appropriations Committee is expected to take up debate on whether to tap the state's Rainy Day Fund to help fill the budgetary shortfall facing Texas for the current fiscal year.  Thanh Tan of KUT's political reporting partner, the Texas Tribune, tells us the committee room is packed. 

Photo by KUT News

Former Speaker Tom Craddick fell to the ground during a House Transportation committee hearing this morning at the Capitol.  The Dallas Morning News is reporting Craddick was at the meeting to lay out his bill banning texting while driving when he apparently fainted and fell to the ground.

KUT News

Michael “Max” Nofziger, who was a former council member from 1987 to 1996 and a well-known flower salesman, will run for the 2011 City Council election. He will have to unseat incumbent Randi Shade, who is running for re-election.  Shade is also facing challenges from Kris Bailey and Chris Nielsen.

picture by KUT

The Texas House easily passed a controversial sonogram/abortion bill on 3rd reading today.  The bill now goes back to the Senate.  Senators there can either agree with the House changes to the bill or ask for a House/Senate conference committee to hammer out the differences.  The committee is the most likely route.  The bill would require all women to view a sonogram and hear the fetus heartbeat before having

Photo by KUT

Last night the Texas House gave initial approval to the abortion sonogram bill by a 103-42 vote. House Bill 15 requires a woman seeking an abortion to receive a sonogram within 24-hours before the procedure. The bill would also require to show the image of the fetus while explaining to the patient what's on the screen and playing the audio of the heartbeat.  

Photo by Ryland Barton/ KUT.

The debate over HB 15—which would require physicians to provide a detailed description of a fetus to its would-be mother—continues to drag through the House this afternoon as Democrats put up a gaggle of amendments and arguments against the bill.

The bill is expected to be approved by the House sometime this evening.

Photo by Ryland Barton/KUT.

Today the so-called "Sonogram Bill" returns to the Texas House, after being sent back to committee yesterday by Democrats. House Democrats took issue with a technicality in how the bill moved from the State Affairs committee to the full House. Barring additional delays, the House is expected to vote on the Bill today.

The bill is one of five pieces of emergency legislation that are being fast-tracked through the Capitol. Pro-choice advocates probably don’t have the votes to stall the bill any longer; though it’s possible more procedural stalling could ensue.

Picture by KUT News

Here's a story that's been around the world and back again in just a couple of days.  

Picture courtesy The Texas Tribune

The Houston Chronicle is reporting that Governor Rick Perry didn't fair very well in a Presidential straw poll taken over the weekend at a Tea Party event in Arizona. 

KUT News

City officials released thousands of documents Friday under an Open Records Request, including unflattering email exchanges between Mayor Lee Leffingwell and city council members.

The emails expose what goes on behind the scenes and what city council members say and think about city staff members and residents.

Photo courtesy Texas Attorney General

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has weighed in on President Obama's decision to no longer have the U.S. Justice Department defend the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act banning recognition of same-sex marriage. 

Image by KUT News/Mose Buchele

It was a packed house at Austin City Hall this morning, as Mayor Lee Leffingwell gave his state of the city address.  KUT’s Mose Buchele reports a lot of what the mayor talked about could be labeled, "Coming Attractions."

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