• The Morning Texan: Temperatures drop as the Texas Legislature heats up

    According to the National Weather Service, Tuesday’s high will only be 92 degrees. The day is expected to be mostly sunny.

    The first committee hearings on legislation for the second special session in the Texas Legislature will start today. Hearings are one of the first steps a bill must pass through in order to become law.

    At 9 a.m., the Senate Finance Committee will have a hearing on a joint resolution related to transportation funding. At 9:30 a.m., the Senate Criminal Justice Committee will have a hearing on a bill related to juvenile sentencing. At 3:30 p.m., the House State Affairs Committee will have a hearing on a bill relating to abortion. A Facebook event already has more than 1,000 RSVPs.

    For a glossary of terms you need to know to survive the second special session, click here.

    For a list of lawmakers and activists you need to be aware of to follow the second special session, click here.

    The North Door is hosting a panel on the Texas Legislature at 6:00 p.m. that includes reporters from The Texas Tribune, the Austin Chronicle and Texas Monthly. Check the event out here.

    Here is some morning reading:

    Yesterday’s most read story online: All sides are gearing up for round two of the abortion debate in Texas  check out our preview that ran in the paper on Monday.

    In case you missed it: The City of Austin is being broken up into 10 voting districts in the next city council election, and a UT student is helping to draw the lines.

    What you have to read: Student loan interest rates doubled Monday as a result of an impasse in Washington. College students are now waiting for action on the rates when Congress returns from its July 4 holiday.

  • Second Special Session Day 1: Committee hearings scheduled

    The second special session started off on Monday relatively calm compared to the exciting end of the first special session.

    Both the Senate and the House briefly convened to refer bills to committee. In the Senate, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst said the Senate would not be following the two-thirds rule or have any blocker bills during the second special session.

    Dewhurst also said additional Department of Public Safety officers would be in the Senate’s gallery during the second special session, and he was prepared to clear the gallery if he needed to.

    In the Senate, a joint resolution on transportation funding was referred to the Finance Committee and a hearing for this resolution was scheduled for Tuesday at 9 a.m. A senate bill on juvenile sentencing for 17-year-olds was referred to the criminal justice committee, and a hearing was scheduled for Tuesday at 9:30 a.m.

    A House abortion bill filed by Rep. Jodie Laubenberg, R-Parker, was referred to the House’s state affairs committee.  A hearing is scheduled for Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. A Facebook event for this hearing already has more than 500 RSVPs. This bill is very similar, if not identical, to the abortion bill that failed to pass in the first special session. The Senate’s version of this bill has been referred to the health and human services committee.

    These bills would ban abortion after 20 weeks, place additional restrictions on abortion clinics and provide further regulation of abortion-inducing drugs.

    A senate bill by Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, that would provide further regulation of abortion-inducing drugs, has not yet been referred to a committee.

    After referring bills to committees and scheduling hearings, both the Senate and the House adjourned till Tuesday, July 9, at 9 a.m.

    Before the House and Senate convened, there was a rally on the South steps of the Capitol.

    For a glossary of terms you need to know to survive the second special session, click here.

    For a list of lawmakers and activists you need to be aware of to follow the second special session, click here.

  • Second Special Session: A cast of characters to follow

    Editor's Note: The Texas legislature started the second special session on Monday, July 1, without much fanfare. But following the dramatic ending to the first special session, there are sure to be dramatic moments in the coming days. Lawmaking is a messy and confusing business, and it is easy to get confused with so many different people involved. The Daily Texan has thus prepared a list of people you need to know to survive the second special session. You can try to memorize this list now, or just refer back to it throughout the session when you have questions. People are listed in alphabetical order.

     

    Wendy Davis:

    Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, obtained national attention when she successfully filibustered SB 5, the abortion legislation of the first special session. Some have said that Davis’s filibuster has “revitalized”  the Democratic party in Texas, and others are predicting she may run for Texas governor in the future.

    On Twitter, Davis now has more than 120,000 followers. Before her filibuster, she had less than 3,000.

    Despite Davis’s successful filibuster and attention, political analysts have predicted that the redistricting maps Texas Gov. Rick Perry just signed have gerrymandered her out of her district, meaning she may not be reelected.

     

    David Dewhurst:

    Lt. Governor David Dewhurst presides over the Texas Senate. Among other powers, this means Dewhurst decides on parliamentary procedures, assigns bills to certain committees and controls the budget process.

    Dewhurst lost the Republican nomination for a U.S. Senate Seat to Ted Cruz in 2012.

    Since the events of the  Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth,’s filibuster, Dewhurst has come under fire for his leadership in the Texas Senate. Several different republicans have declared they will be running for his position as lieutenant governor in the next election cycle. Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, Agricultural Commissioner Todd Staples and Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson have all declared they are running for lieutenant governor.

    Dewhurst has promised to empty and clear out the gallery if the crowd becomes loud again.

     

    Glenn Hegar:

    Photo Courtesy of Texas Senate

    Sen. Glenn Hegar, R-Katy, is the youngest member of the Texas Senate. He filed Senate Bill 5 during the first special session, the bill filibustered by Wendy Davis. He filed Senate Bill 1 during the second special session.

    Jodie Laubenberg:

    Photo courtesy of Texas State Director.

    Rep. Jodie Laubenberg, R-Parker, is serving in her fourth term in the Texas House. She filed House Bill 2 in the second special session, which is very similar to the first special session’s Senate Bill 5.

    Dan Patrick:

    Photo courtesy of Dan Patrick's YouTube channel.

    Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, is serving in his fourth term in the Texas Senate. Patrick has filed SB 9, which has to do exclusively with abortion-inducing drugs. Following Sen. Wendy Davis’ filibuster of the abortion legislation during the first special session, Patrick declared he was running for lieutenant governor.

    During his announcement, Patrick criticized Lt. Governor David Dewhurst and he said the republican party needed a lieutenant governor that was unapologetically conservative.

    Cecile Richards:

    Cecile Richards is the president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. She has held this position since 2006. She is also the daughter of former Texas Gov. Ann Richards.

    Cecile Richards is an activist, democrat and leader among pro-choice advocates. She came to Texas during the filibuster. She attended a rally on the south steps of the Texas Capitol on July 1, and will likely continue to make headlines if she stays in Texas.

     

    Rick Perry:

    Texas Gov. Rick Perry is the man who called the second special session. Only the governor can call the special session, and only the governor can decide what will be considered on the special session.

    Perry, Dewhurst and others have insisted that the abortion legislation is about protecting innocent lives and making the procedure safer for women. Perry has spoken disapprovingly of the filibuster that happened on the last day of the first special session.

    “We will not allow the breakdown of decorum and decency to prevent us from doing what the people of this state hired us to do,” Perry said in his statement when he announced the second special session.

    Perry has yet to announce whether he will run for Texas Governor again, or if he will run for the Presidency of the United States again.

     

    Leticia Van De Putte:

    Sen. Leticia Van De Putte, D-San Antonio, has been practicing pharmacy since 1980. She has previously served in the Texas House.

    During the last minutes of the first special session, Sen. Van De Putte raised a parliamentary inquiry that many say set off 10 minutes of cheering, screaming and clapping from the gallery that delayed SB 5. This has been referred to as the “citizen filibuster.” Sen. Van De Putte’s question was: "At what point must a female senator raise her hand or her voice to be recognized over her male colleagues?”

    On the last day of the first special session, Sen. Van De Putte returned to the Texas Senate following her father’s funeral.

  • Second Special Session: Terms you need to know

    Editor's Note: The Texas legislature started the second special session on Monday, July 1, without much fanfare. But following the dramatic ending to the first special session, there are sure to be dramatic moments in the coming days. Lawmaking is a messy and confusing business, and it is easy to get lost in the sea of terms and vocabulary. The Daily Texan has thus prepared a glossary of terms you need to know to survive the second special session. You can try to memorize this list now, or just refer back to it throughout the session when you have questions. 

    Filibuster: A filibuster is a type of legislative procedure that typically aims to talk a bill to death. If a lawmaker can keep the filibuster going until time runs out, a bill will die.

    During a filibuster, a lawmaker must remain standing. They cannot lean on anything, eat any food or drink any liquids. They also may not use the restroom. If a lawmaker breaks any rule three times, the filibuster ends. Other lawmakers must point out a broken rule first with a point of order.

    Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, made an 11-hour filibuster on the abortion legislation in the first special session. Filibuster records are not necessarily well kept, but many believe the longest filibuster in United States history was by Texas Judge Bill Meier when he was a Texas Senator in 1977. Meier’s filibuster lasted for 43 hours, and was on a bill relating to open records law. The bill Meier tried to stop passed shortly after his filibuster ended.

    Gallery: Both the House and the Senate have an upper deck where people can gather to watch the legislative process. The rules forbid screaming, clapping or cheering from the gallery.

    During the first special session, people watching the Senate’s gallery started to scream and chant during the final moments of the last day. Many attribute the crowd as one of the reasons the abortion legislation did not pass. Some have criticized the crowd, accusing them of “hijacking democracy” and behaving like a mob.

    Lt. Governor David Dewhurst said he will clear and empty the gallery if the crowd is loud again in the special session.

    Germane: During a filibuster, lawmakers must stay on topic, meaning the issues they discuss must be germane to the bill up for consideration.

    House Bill 2: Filed by Rep. Jodie Laubenberg, R-Parker, HB2 is very similar to SB5 from the first special session. Just like SB5 from the first special session, Senate Bill 1 will ban abortion after twenty weeks, place restrictions and more safety measures on abortion clinics in Texas and add additional restrictions to abortion-inducing drugs.

    Parliamentary Inquiry: A parliamentary inquiry is a question directed at the residing president, officer, speaker or lieutenant governor about procedures or rules. These inquires can be made when a lawmaker is confused about a law or a rule, and seeks clarification. Parliamentary inquiries can also be used as a means to filibuster or delay a vote on a bill.

    Point of Order: A point of order can be raised at any time during the legislative process. Points of order are raised by a lawmaker when they believe a rule has been broken. The point of order must be resolved before procedures continued.

    During a filibuster, points of order were raised against Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, for going off topic and receiving assistance with a back brace.

    Senate Bill 5: SB5 was the abortion-related bill that failed to pass the Texas Senate during the first special session. The bill would have banned abortion after twenty weeks, placed restrictions and more safety measures on abortion clinics in Texas and added additional restrictions to abortion-inducing drugs. This bill failed to pass in the final minutes of the first special session. SB5 was filed by Sen. Glenn Hegar, R-Katy.

    Senate Bill 9: SB9 would place restrictions on abortion-inducing drugs. The restrictions in SB9 are similar to those in SB5, from the first special session. SB9 was filed by Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston.

    Senate Bill 1: Senate Bill 1, filed by Sen. Glenn Hegar, R-Katy, is referred to as "the Senate Bill 5 of the second special session." Just like Senate Bill 5 from the first special session, Senate Bill 1 will ban abortion after twenty weeks, plac restrictions and more safety measures on abortion clinics in Texas and add additional restrictions to abortion-inducing drugs.

    Senate Bill 2: Senate Bill 2, filed by Sen. Joan Huffman, R-Houston, has to do with juvenile sentencing. The bill would create a life sentence without parole for 17-year-olds who committee a capital felony. Juvenile sentencing is one of the issues Texas Gov. Rick Perry placed on the call for the second special session.

    Senate Joint Resolution 1: This resolution would create a state constitutional amendment that would create the transfer of certain general revenue to the state highway fund. Transportation funding is one of the items Texas Gov. Rick Perry wants lawmakers to consider during the second special session. This resolution was filed by Sen. Robert Nichols, R-Jacksonville.

    Special Session: A special session is a 30-day long legislative period. Only Texas Gov. Rick Perry can call a special session, and during the session, only items the governor chooses can be considered. The governor can call a special session at any time. All bills die that don’t make it through the legislative process to Perry’s desk before 30 days.

    During the first special session, Perry told lawmakers to consider legislation on redistricting, transportation funding, juvenile sentencing and abortion restrictions. Only redistricting passed through both the House and the Senate. Legislation on transportation funding, juvenile sentencing and abortion restrictions all failed to make it through the Senate on the last day of the 30-day session.

    The day after the first special session ended, Perry called a second special session. He said legislation on transportation funding, juvenile sentencing and abortion restrictions were all to be considered in this second special session.

    Since taking office, Perry has called 11 special sessions.

    #Stand4Life: This is the hashtag that has been commonly used on Twitter to show support for abortion legislation and restrictions. Supporters of the bills have been wearing the color blue.

    #StandWithWendy: This is the hashtag that has been commonly used on Twitter to show support for Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth. Supporters of Davis and opponents of the abortion legislation have been wearing the color orange.

    Two-thirds rule:  In the Senate, bills are brought up in the order they pass through committee. Lawmakers typically file “blocker” bills, which are on top of the calendar and can block other bills from being considered. In order to get a bill pass this “blocker” bill, the Senate has to suspend this rule, which takes a two-third vote.

    This is the rule that prevented abortion legislation from passing in the regular session.  While Republicans in the Senate have the simple majority needed to pass abortion legislation, they don’t have enough two-thirds votes needed to suspend the rules. The “two-thirds rule,” however, can be suspended during a special session.

    Lt. Governor David Dewhurst kept the rule out of the first and second special session.

  • Student interest rates on loans double today

    Student loan interest rates doubled Monday as a result of an impasse in Washington, leaving college students waiting for action on the rates when Congress returns from its July 4th holiday.

    Interest rates on subsidized Stafford loans increased from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent on July 1 after Congress was unable to extend the lower rates. UT officials say this increase will increase the average student’s debt by almost $2,600. Both sides of Congress have pledged to resolve the issue before the fall, when most students begin taking out their loans.

    Republicans have proposed linking student loans to financial markets instead of letting the federal lending rates be set by congress. President Barack Obama and other Democrats have resisted that approach and insisted on other long-term solutions.

    According to state data, 85 percent of student aid in Texas comes from federal loans, which is 9 percent above the national average. The state currently ranks second in the number of students who take out federally subsidized loans.

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