Abortion, voter fraud and Chick-fil-A debated at the Texas Capitol

Supporters of Planned Parenthood gathered Friday in front of the house chamber to stand in opposition SB22. It was argued the legislation would cut off access to basic health care services for woman who have limited or no insurance coverage.

“Extremists members of the Texas Legislature remain determined to block access to Planned Parenthood to score political points no matter what,” said Dyana Luminati-Mercado the Head of Planned Parenthood Texas 

The bill was filed in reaction to the City of Austin giving Planned Parenthood a cheap $1 lease on city-owned property. HB22 prohibits governmental bodies from entering into any financial agreement with groups or individuals that perform more than 50 abortions in a year. “It does nothing to stop Planned Parenthood from continuing to do what they do they have hundreds of millions of dollars in the bank and just cutting out a sweetheart deal, that their tax dollars are locals are going to be to support, this is what people are asking for,” said State Rep. Drew Springer a Co-Sponsor if the Bill.

In the house gallery, several people opposed to the bill added to the tension as debate began 

“Taxpayers who oppose abortion should not have to see their tax dollars subsidizing the abortion industry,” said HB22 Sponsor Rep. Candy Noble (R) Murphy.

Austin Democrat State Rep Eddie Rodriguez challenged Noble asking how she was protecting his taxpayers and others in the state who want the programs provided by Planned Parenthood. The exchange set the tone for the afternoon. “Are you aware that in Tarrant County education events by planned parenthood staffed to raise awareness and importance of STD testing and treatment to destigmatize STDs goes on through planned parenthood that would not be allowed anymore if your bill passes are you aware of that,” asked Rep Rodriguez. 

Rep. Noble was unmoved by the question Rodriguez raised. “I am very very proud of the work we have done as a state legislature to provide the resources we need to Texans for all of these needs. Without using a portion providers and their affiliates,” said Rep. Noble.

More than 40 amendments were filed. Several attempts to kill the bill on procedural technicalities were attempted and failed. Debate was expected to last well into Friday evening.

Three other hot topic bills moved out of committee Friday.

SB 1978, the so called Save Chick-fil-A Bill, was cleared for a house floor debate. The bill prohibits a government body from punishing a business for supporting a religious cause.

Action on another bill took place on the house floor . Members of the House Elections Committee met during a brief afternoon break to push forward SB 9. It was a 5 to 4 vote.

A key part of the measure upgrades voter fraud from a misdemeanor to a felony. Opponents call the bill voter suppression. Committee Chair Stephanie Klick said it actually will protect opportunities to vote. “Under existing law if a county goes to vote centers they would be able to reduce the number of polling places on election day by 50% my bill reverses that they can reduce it no more than20%,” said Rep Klick.

The Fort Worth Republican was also watching the progress of another bill. Rep. Klick has a bill to expand the use of CBD oil. Friday moving forward clearing a Senate Committee.

The vote sets it up for a debate next week on the senate floor.