Archive for May, 2012

Appeals judge puts Planned Parenthood back in the money

Federal Appeals Judge Jerry Smith says there is sufficient evidence the state law excluding Planned Parenthood from receiving money as part of the Texas Women’s Health Program is unconstitutional. The Texas Health and Human Services Commission says it will "comply with the court order as the case proceeds."

"We also will continue to work toward a state program that provides women with access to vital family planning services and complies with the law that bans abortion providers from getting those funds," HHSC said in a statement.

Planned Parenthood said their doors will remain open tomorrow.

"This case isn’t about Planned Parenthood — it’s about the women who rely on us
for cancer screenings, birth control, and annual exams, Sarah Wheat, Interim Co-CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Texas Capital Region said in a statement. "We won’t let politics interfere with the health care that nearly three million people a year rely on Planned Parenthood for in Texas and around the country."

A trial date will be set during a hearing in district court on May 18.

The same judge sided with the state earlier this week with a stay to the injunction decided on Monday. Judge Smith had said he granted a stay so he would have more time to review the law.

State officials say if Texas is forced to include Planned Parenthood in the WHP they could shut down the program all together.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Paul Ryan to keynote Texas GOP Convention

A darling of Republicans across the country will deliver the keynote address at the Texas GOP Convention in Fort Worth June 9. Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, who chairs the House Budget Committee, is often placed by pundits at the top of the vice presidential short list for Mitt Romney.

In a press release from the Texas GOP, Steve Munisteri says, "I am grateful to Congressman Ryan for agreeing to speak at our State Convention on June 9th. His leadership on shrinking the size of government and cutting federal spending aligns well with the platform of the Republican Party of Texas. I look forward to welcoming him to Fort Worth and our State Convention!"

The Republican state convention will be June 7-9 at the Fort Worth Convention Center. The Democrats will hold their convention the same weekend in Houston.

Tonight on Capital Tonight: Primary day nears

The Texas primary is right around the corner, and the candidates aren’t pulling any punches. Here’s a look at the stories we’re covering on tonight’s show.

U.S. Senate Debate

David Dewhurst, Ted Cruz, Tom Leppert and Craig James will debate again tonight in Houston, this time with Democratic candidates Paul Sadler and Sean Hubbard on stage as well. The Greater Houston Partnership, Houston Public Media and the University of Houston are hosting the forum. Our reporter, Alana Rocha, will be live from outside the debate hall.

Big Money Politics

Campaigning across Texas is expensive, and this year there is more money than ever being pumped into the race. The reason: SuperPACs. Last week we looked at some of the negative ads flooding the airwaves.
Tonight, we’re digging deeper. We’ll talk to Rob Johnson, executive director of the Texas Conservatives Fund, a pro-Dewhurst SuperPAC.

Auma Obama

Tonight we will also be joined by someone who knows Pres. Obama like no one else: his half-sister. Auma Obama, who grew up in Kenya, met the president in her 20s. She’ll join us to talk about her brother, the First Lady and her recently written memoir.

Capital Commentators

As always, Harvey Kronberg of the Quorum Report, Democratic Strategist Harold Cook and Republican Strategist Ted Delisi will be here to give us their take on the week in state and national politics.

Dewhurst goes on the attack in new ad

A new attack ad from Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst hit radio waves, today. The :60 second spot “Good Game” takes aim at former Solicitor General Ted Cruz. The ad was released ahead of tonight’s Greater Houston Partnership Senate debate. In it, Dewhurst takes aim at Cruz’s The talks about Cruz’s record, saying, “Have you heard Ted Cruz talk about strengthening our economy? Cruz talks a good game, but the facts just don’t add up.”

Earlier this week, the Cruz campaign released an attack ad of its own. The :30 television spot attacks Dewhurst for his attack ads. It accuses Dewhurst of “appointing liberal democrats and proposing new taxes.”

Tonight’s debate, meanwhile, will feature both Democrats and Republicans running for Senate. It’s the final one before the May 29 primary.

Perry: God forgives ‘oops’ moments

Gov. Perry told attendees at the annual state prayer breakfast that God forgives mistakes, including campaign gaffes.

"Every one of us has ‘oops’ moments, every day. And being able to know instinctively, intuitively, without any doubt that there is an all-loving god that is going to forgive you for that ‘oops’ moment –America may not forgive you for it, but God will," Perry said to a chorus of applause and "Amen."

Gov. Perry also said a prayer for Pres. Obama.

"Let’s pray for our president, his wisdom. I pray that God pierces his heart," Perry said, which caused some in the audience to laugh or yell out "Amen." "That he truly understands God’s will to protect innocent life and pray for his true understanding of God’s will for this country."

Thursday, May 3 is National Prayer Day. Perry formally declared Thursday a Day of Prayer in Texas at the breakfast.

Statesman’s Embry to be Straus’ Press Secretary

Courtesy: Austin American-Statesman

Austin American-Statesman Capitol Bureau Chief Jason Embry will be Speaker Joe Straus’ new Press Secretary.

“Jason’s insights into the legislative process and knowledge of both the issues and the Members themselves will serve not only my office, but also the State of Texas, well," Straus said in a statement.

“I am honored to join Speaker Straus’s team,” Embry said in the same statement. “I look forward to helping the Speaker communicate his vision of a fiscally responsible state government that promotes opportunity for all Texans. I have been privileged to cover the Capitol alongside talented, dedicated journalists from around the state, and I am eager to work with those journalists, as well as the members of the Texas House, in this new capacity."

Embry was a reporter at the Statesman for nine years. He created the First Reading blog three years ago. Before moving to Austin he worked at the Waco Tribune-Herald.

Appeals court grants stay, Planned Parenthood in peril

YNN’s Alana Rocha filed the above video report.

Funding for Planned Parenthood is once again in immediate jeopardy. An appeals court has granted Attorney General Greg Abbott’s request for a stay Tuesday, overruling a temporary injunction issued yesterday.

At issue is Planned Parenthood’s role in the Women’s Health Program and the Medicaid funding it receives. Texas lawmakers passed a law last session banning organizations affiliated with abortion providers from receiving state subsidies. The cash flow was set to stop Tuesday.

Planned Parenthood in peril

Click here to read the Fifth Circuit Order

Click here to read the Fifth Circuit Response Request

Click here to read the State’s Request for Stay

Planned Parenthood is the largest organization that receives money as part of the Women’s Health Program. They filed suit, claiming the law violates their rights. Monday, Judge Lee Yaekel issued a temporary injunction, stopping the state from pulling the money. He ruled that there was sufficient evidence that the law overstepped state authority.

Attorney General Greg Abbott immediately filed an appeal, and requested a stay. Justice Jerry Smith sided with the state, and agreed to lift the temporary injunction, excluding Planned Parenthood from the federally funded program.

Planned Parenthood of the Texas Capital Region tells YNN they will continue to provide free exams at least through Tuesday. It is not clear what will happen Wednesday.

“Our staff is just really eager to put these politics behind us and make sure that we can continue being here for breast and cervical cancer screenings, HIV tests,” Planned Parenthood Austin’s Co-CEO Sarah Wheat said. “You know, those vital exams that uninsured women really depend on.”

The state blamed Planned Parenthood for not preparing for this situation. In its emergency motion, the state said, "This emergency situation is of Planned Parenthood’s own making. Planned Parenthood has been on notice of the state law at the heart of this suit for months. Yet Planned Parenthood filed this lawsuit a mere 19 days ago, forcing the district court and the litigants into an abbreviated briefing schedule, and causing the district court to rule one day before the law was scheduled to go into effect."

The Appeals Court has given Planned Parenthood until 5 p.m. Tuesday to respond to the state’s motion. Planned Parenthood officials YNN spoke with say they will take all the necessary steps to respond.

Gov. Perry thanks Scott for ‘raising the bar’ in Texas schools

Gov. Perry released a statement Tuesday, in which he called Education Commissioner Robert Scott "an integral part of raising the bar for scholastic achievement in Texas." Perry appointed Scott five years ago.

“Robert Scott has served this state and its school children tremendously during his tenure, always remaining committed to the principle that all children should graduate, and do so college and career ready. Robert has been an integral part of raising the bar for scholastic achievement in Texas, successfully implementing the state’s new accountability system and working with the State Board of Education to revamp Texas’ curriculum standards.

“His leadership was also fundamental in creating the Texas High School Project, a public-private partnership that created Texas’ first STEM academies and Early College High Schools. Robert’s experience and dedication have left a lasting imprint on our state’s education system and countless Texas children, ensuring a top-notch education for our students and their preparation for success in and out of school. I’m thankful for his service and wish him all the best in the future.”

Farouk Shami taking a shot at being the ‘Celebrity Apprentice’

We haven’t heard much from Farouk Shami, since his long shot run for governor in 2010. Now, the hair care mogul famous for his Chi stylers is taking his business skills to the small screen.

Shami announced today that he’s signed on to be on ‘Celebrity Apprentice,’ with Donald Trump. He’s hosting a watch part at his home in Spring, Texas. The first episode airs on May 6 at 7:30 p.m.

And just for old time’s sake, here’s our favorite ad that ran during Shami’s 2010 campaign to challenge Bill White in the Democratic Primary:

Republican leaders applaud appeals court decision

Republicans are pleased with an appeals court’s decision to reverse the injunction won by Planned Parenthood yesterday.

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst released the following statement after the appeal was announced.

"Texas can continue to provide the basic preventative health care 130,000 women depend on without sacrificing our values, and I’m confident that at the end of the day, the courts will uphold our states’ rights and Texas’ commitment to protecting the unborn."

Stephanie Goodman from the Texas Health and Human Services Commission sent us this response.

""The stay issued this morning allows the state to fully enforce state law today and exclude abortion providers from the Women’s Health Program. Women who need help finding a new WHP provider can call 1-800-335-8957."


The governor’s office reiterated their statement from last night. They say they are confident in Attorney General Abbott’s appeal "to defend the will of Texans and our state law" and they will "continue to work with the Attorney General to pursue all available legal options."