In what may be the most impactful pro-life victory Texas will see this biennium, the House has passed a ban on local entities allocating Texans’ tax dollars to abortion providers.
The bill targets the transfer of taxpayer dollars from state and local governments seeking to fund the operations of abortion providers. The prohibition would include contracting, generally, with those providers, as was infamously brought to light last fall in the city of Austin. Austin was leasing a facility to Planned Parenthood for the sweetheart price of just $1 per year.
House Democrats fought to delay the progress of the bill, debating 17 amendments over the course of more than five hours. Republican leaders, like Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen and team, did little to prevent the antics. Bonnen and his chairmen have been slowing the pace of chamber in recent weeks themselves, taking long lunches, neglecting to add priority bills to their calendar, and spending several hours of congratulatory resolutions and recognitions each day. The “chubbing,” or intentional prolonged debate to slow the process down, was so noticeable on Friday that Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, across the Capitol in the Senate chamber, made mention to it. Patrick said if the Texas House was going to chub and destroy the Senate bills of his “hard-working members,” so would they.
— Brandon Waltens (@bwaltens) May 17, 2019
Patrick put the Senate at recess shortly after the passage of the popular red-light camera ban bill. They would remain at ease until just before 7:00 p.m.
The dean of the Senate, Democrat State Sen. John Whitmire (Houston) said he would like to visit with House colleagues following adjournment, “to share our frustrations with them,” regarding their pace and refusal to move bills along in the process. The Senate adjourned until Sunday afternoon, where Senate bills will reach the House just in time to be given the appropriate two days’ notice before the Senate Bill deadline Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the Texas House was put at ease so caucus meetings could occur just before 3:30 p.m. Friday afternoon. Notably, abortion-rights proponent and Republican State Rep. Sarah Davis (Houston) caucused with Democrats on the bill, rather than with the Republican House Caucus, chaired by Lubbock Republican State Rep. Dustin Burrows.
Barely shy of five hours later, just before 8:30 p.m., they returned to the floor.
Shortly thereafter, Davis took to the back mic to ask what the procedure was for calling the question or to move to the vote on the bill. Bonnen said she was not recognized to make such a motion.
— Jonathan Stickland (@RepStickland) May 17, 2019
In one of the two Republican-offered amendments following the break, State Rep. Jonathan Stickland (Bedford) filed an amendment that pitted Democrats, who had talked at length all day about not undermining the “local control” of Texas’ cities and municipalities. The amendment was simple: “This chapter may not be construed to restrict a municipality or county from prohibiting abortion.” A point of order was called immediately before Stickland even arrived at the microphone to introduce it, calling into question the procedural legitimacy of the bill. The point of order was overruled, however, and the amendment was adopted.
Stickland’s amendment was the only adopted change to the bill.
Shortly afterward, and following nearly an hour of Democrats speaking on a handful of amendments at length, the bill was voted out of the chamber with 81 ayes and 65 nays.
The bill, now not identical to the version passed out of the Texas Senate, will either get approval through the Senate’s concurrence or a be subject to negotiations in House-Senate conference committee.