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After Filibuster, Texas Abortion Restrictions Back for Round 2

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT News

Gov. Rick Perry has added abortion restrictions, transportation funding and criminal justice legislation to his call for the second 2013 special session, on the heels of the abortion bill’s failure a day ago.

Republicans tried to get a vote out on Senate Bill 5 before midnight Tuesday, the session’s last day. But they attributed the failure of the abortion-related measure to the activists in the galleries.

About three hours later, lawmakers agreed the vote did not take place before the session’s end.

“Members, regrettably the constitutional time for the first called session of the 83rd Legislature has expired,” Dewhurst said on the Senate floor. “Senate Bill 5 can not be signed in the presence of the Senate and at this time can not be enrolled.”

Jim Henson, director of the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin, expected the call of the second special session.

“Their efforts ended in such chaos and such a way that they can’t appear to have been beaten by activists and they can’t appear to have accepted the institutional breakdown that we saw last night,” Henson said. 

Especially on a conservative social issue like abortion regulation. “Social issues have been the area which Rick Perry has worked very hard to appeal to the conservative base of the Republican party and shore up his conservative credentials,” Henson said. “Issues like abortion, the restriction of gay rights, have been hallmarks of Rick Perry’s appeal of the conservative base.”

He’s appealing to people like Melissa Conway, who came to the Capitol on Tuesday to support the abortion bill.

“I’ve found that if we continue to make steps and strides with pro-life legislation, that we can really do what the heartbeat of Texas is, which is to stand up for those pre-born babies,” Conway said.

It’s people like Melissa Conway who could come out to vote in the primaries. Mark Jones, a professor of American politics at Rice University in Houston, says Republicans prioritize them.

“Elections in Texas are still decided in March in the Republican primary, much more than in November in the general election, and therefore the key electorate,” Jones said.

Republican lawmakers hinted that the amount of time the House took to send Senate Bill 5 back to the Senate enabled the filibuster by Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth. On July 1, Republican lawmakers will start their efforts to get a different outcome this time.

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