The Legislative Cocktail Hour
UPDATE: HB 2, the controversial abortion bill, passed in the Texas Senate on Friday night. The bill is now headed to the Governor.
Big news hit this week when Rick Perry announced that he would not seek a fourth full term in office. Most likely, the Governor will be packing up his hair combs and his guns and heading towards the White House, although he is being pretty evasive when it comes to answering that question. Call him what you will, that guy knows how to be coy. He could teach a whole semester on being coy. Being coy and cheering. 'Cause — fun fact — he can do both!
How exactly Rick Perry intends to re-shape himself before throwing his hat into the 2016 presidential election ring isn’t yet clear. But some re-shaping will have to be done. While he began his 2011 bid for the White House strongly — even leading in polls at one point — all goodwill was obliterated in that fiery crash known as "The Oops Heard 'Round the World."
His upcoming trip to Israel and his rather odd advertising campaigns in California and New York attempting to convince businesses to move to Texas are certainly a start. I wouldn’t be surprised if he begins to pull away from the Ted Cruzes of the world and starts to buddy up to the more moderate Chris Christies on the GOP presidential candidate short list.
Whatever happens, it will be interesting to see who nabs the master suite in the Texas Governor's Mansion (assuming anyone ever moves back in there again). Certainly on the GOP short list you will find Attorney General Greg Abbott, the same guy who sued the Federal Government for not letting Texas be racist and put our racist redistricting map into effect. We expect him to officially announce this weekend.
Another contender is Tom Pauken, former Texas Workforce Commission Chairman. Over on the Democratic side you have potentials in the Castro Brothers, Julian and Joaquin. The handsome Castros (I’m objectifying but I don’t care — this is a political column so I rarely, if ever, get to objectify anyone) are quickly becoming Democratic darlings, but arguments that they’re both still a bit green are probably valid.
Oh, and we certainly shouldn’t forget about Sen. Wendy Davis, who everyone's trying to draft to run. She certainly has the name recognition and fundraising moxie right now to justify it.
House passes abortion bill, Senate expected to approve, too
As the rest of the country watched on, the Texas House passed HB 2 on Wednesday. The bill would virtually eliminate all abortion clinics in Texas and place staunch regulations on the five that will remain open. The Senate Health and Human Services Committee approved the bill in that chamber Thursday morning, paving the way for it to move to the floor of the Senate on Friday.
The repercussions of this have only been speculated about in the media. We can’t even really look at data from states with strict abortion legislation to guess. First, because this is some of the most extensive regulation in the country. Second, because Texas is big. The sheer amount of distance it will take to get from West Texas to the first available abortion clinic is staggering. Comparing the data that comes out of Iowa — a state with strict abortion regulation and only 11 clinics — to Texas — with five abortion clinics and nearly five times bigger — just seems silly.
What we do know from data is that the number of abortions don’t actually go down when tighter restrictions are in place; rather, illegal, unsafe abortions increase.
But since this all in the name of women’s health, we certainly can trust that our lawmakers must know what they’re doing. Right?