Monday Starts Texas Legislative Special Session Two In Austin; Abortion Among The Topics

Texas lawmakers will start Monday on the second special session, which includes a debate on abortion restrictions and several other issues. With the new session, the entire legislative process starts over for each bill. 

Once again, lawmakers will consider three items on the agenda; a catch-all anti abortion proposal, a bill for transportation funding and a measure dealing with sentencing guidelines for 17 year olds convicted of capital murder.

The first session's debate over abortion restrictions resulted in a chaotic day for the Texas Legislature.

Dr. Jon Taylor chairs the political science department at University of St. Thomas. He says the entire process starts over with bills that must be filed by individual lawmakers, public hearings and committee votes before they're considered by both chambers.

"Usually you get this stuff done quckly, they want to go home. But considering the issues that were in play, in particular this last issue SB 5, that thing dragged everyone down at the end. It killed transportation; it killed juvenile justice and it — to be blunt — hurt Lt. Gov David Dewhurst."

Noisy protesters kept Dewhurst from passing tough new proposed abortion restrictions before the first session ended earlier this week. He says it'll be interesting to see whether we see another filibuster made by Democrat state Sen. Wendy Davis of Forth Worth. 

"Honestly it depends on the issue, it depends on in this case, obviously the abortion issue. There are other Democrats who might have stepped up, Whitmire from Houston for example, Kirk Watson from Austin, but it makes you wonder who's gonna really do it again. If any attempt to filibuster — and this is not saying a filibuster will actually happen, because I think Dewhurst actually lost control of everything — is Davis is likely the choice again?"

Meanwhile Gov. Perry, in a speech at the National Right to Life Convention in Fort Worth, used Davis as a rallying cry for tougher abortion limits in Texas.

Rochelle Tafolla is with Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast. She hopes Texas lawmakers stay focused on the issue.

"The basic issue is a woman's health, and an individual woman no matter where she is in Texas, being able to make a private medical decision with her family, her faith and her doctor, and not having a politician in Austin end her access to safe legal abortion." 

She thinks the governor's stance on abortion could hinder a woman's ability to choose.

"We have no idea what may be going on with her health or her family situation, and for Gov. Perry or any politician, to say that they know better than that individual woman or her physician is truly outrageous."

The governor can convene as many extra sessions as he likes, and set the agenda of what lawmakers can work on. 

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Pat Hernandez

Reporter

Pat Hernandez is a general assignments reporter who joined the KUHF news staff in February of 2008...