Archive for July, 2014

Austin Abortion Clinic Closes Doors

An Austin abortion clinic and women’s health center is closing its doors, citing a controversial abortion law passed last session as the reason.

That’s according to a spokeswoman for Whole Woman’s Health in North Austin. The clinic provides surgical and medical abortions, along with annual exams, birth control and family counseling. The clinic is one of more than 20 that have closed since a package of abortion restrictions passed last session.

Known as House Bill 2, the law requires abortion doctors to have admitting privileges to nearby hospitals and restricts the way abortion-inducing drugs can be administered. But it’s another requirement set to go into effect in September that could cause all but six of the state’s clinics to close. That provision requires all clinics to meet the standards of ambulatory surgical centers, and it’s the reason Whole Women’s Health in Austin says they’re shutting down.

This all happens just days before Whole Women’s Health and other abortion providers are going to trial over the surgical center requirement.

Opponents of the law say it places an undue burden on women by making abortion services harder to find. Supporters say it’s meant to increase the safety of the procedure.

 

Capital Tonight: Is the Border Issue Responsible for Perry’s Polling Bump?

It appears Gov. Rick Perry’s handling of the border crisis is resonating with Republican voters. According to a new Fox News poll, 12 percent of the Republicans polled said they’d like to see Perry become their party’s nominee for President in 2016. The results have him tied for first place with former Florida Governor Jeb Bush.

In Wednesday’s Capital Tonight, we examined how much of the governor’s political comeback is due to his handling of the border issue.

LOOKING BACK

How much better prepared is Gov. Perry for a possible presidential run now than he was in 2012? The Quorum Report‘s Harvey Kronberg joined us to address that question and more.

LAWMAKER CONVERSATION 

Between multiple committee hearings and a statewide tour on women’s health issues, it’s been a busy summer for Democratic Rep. Donna Howard. She joined us in-studio for an update on the issues she’s been involved in.

Capital Tonight: Lawmakers Examine Cost of Border Push

DPS officers have been sent to the border and National Guard troops are on the way. Now, lawmakers are taking a moment to figure out whether the extra manpower is making a difference.

In Tuesday’s Capital Tonight, we heard from the state agencies involved in stepping up enforcement at the border, plus we got an update on the total cost of DPS and National Guard operations.

CAPITAL COMMENTATORS

Greg Abbott’s team is hitting Wendy Davis again on out-of-state fundraising, but the Davis camp is quick to fire back with the charge of hypocrisy. Our Capital Commentators weighed in on the latest flare-up in the governor’s race.

INSIDE THE ER

Plus, Texas filmmaker Andrew Richey joined us to talk about a new documentary called “CODE BLACK,” which he co-produced. It’s a fast-paced look at one of the country’s busiest ERs and a behind-the-scenes take on the bureaucratic reality that comes with saving lives.

Capital Tonight: Border Sheriffs Weigh In on Immigrant Situation

On the same day a federal appeals court in Virginia ruled against that state’s same-sex marriage ban, a group in Texas is renewing its push for marriage equality.

In Monday’s Capital Tonight, we saw how Equality Texas is putting new pressure on the attorney general’s office and how the Virginia court ruling could eventually affect Texas. Plus, we heard from border sheriffs gathered for the Sheriffs’ Association of Texas convention about the recent wave of illegal immigrants and the governor’s decision to send National Guard troops.

ON THE AGENDA

Some of the state’s top political candidates were also at the sheriff’s convention, including Republican attorney general candidate Ken Paxton. We sat down with the Quorum Report‘s Harvey Kronberg to discuss Sen. Paxton’s first campaign appearance since his nomination.

JOURNALIST TURNED AUTHOR

Journalist and author Chris Tomlinson joined us to talk about his new book, “Tomlinson Hill,” about the history of two families with different racial backgrounds — both with the Tomlinson name.

Patrick Names New Communications Director

Sen. Dan Patrick announced Monday that his campaign has hired Alejandro Garcia as its new communications director. Garcia previously worked as the director of border affairs under three Texas secretaries of state. He also worked as press secretary for Gov. Rick Perry’s 2010 gubernatorial campaign.

In a statement, campaign manager Allen Blakemore said:

“We are very excited to have Alejandro join the campaign as our new Communications Director. Alejandro has hit the ground running and brings a fresh perspective to the team.  His political campaign experience in communications strategy is a perfect fit to secure our victory in the upcoming November election.”

Patrick, a Republican, is running to replace current Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst. He faces Democrat Leticia Van de Putte in the November election.

Capital Tonight: Lawmakers Examine Border Issues Beyond Recent Surge

While the state continues to ramp up its response to the wave of immigrant children, a group of lawmakers visited the Texas-Mexico border for a field hearing on human trafficking. It was a pre-scheduled interim committee meeting, but the recent influx of unaccompanied minors took center stage.

In Thursday’s Capital Tonight, we got an update from the Rio Grande Valley on how lawmakers are coping with both issues and how some say they’re related. Plus, we spoke to Julie Flanders of the group Justice For Our Neighbors about some of the legal hurdles immigrant children face even while they await their immigration hearings.

CAPITAL COMMENTATORS

When it comes to Congress’s response to the border crisis, the partisan fighting hasn’t come as a surprise. But will doing nothing come back to haunt them in November? We sat down with Republican strategist Ted Delisi and Texas Democratic Party Executive Director Will Hailer to get their take.

 

FOSTER CARE QUESTIONS

The foster care system in Texas was back under the microscope Thursday, as lawmakers considered ways to reform how the Department of Family and Protective Services handles contractors who screen potential foster parents. We heard more about the issue from former caseworkers and foster kids who’ve seen the system up close.

And while we know UT Austin President Bill Powers will be stepping down in June, 2015, questions remain over the rocky relationship between Powers, the chancellor and some regents. We spoke to a former head of the UT Graduate Student Assembly, Michael Redding, to get his perspective.

Capital Tonight: Religious, Medical Communities Weigh In on Border Crisis

The border crisis has spawned concern over health care, or the lack thereof. Accusations of serious disease are being flung at the thousands of children crossing the border, but the experts say that may not be an accurate depiction. We discussed the situation with medical experts at the national and state level to see if the finger-pointing is merited.

Plus, religious organizations have worked hard to further the dialogue surrounding the Texas immigration crisis. Bishop Joe Vásquez of the Austin Diocese joined us Wednesday to explain why they are contacting Congress directly, and what they hope to accomplish.

ABORTION LAW UPDATE

A controversial law that could eventually shut down all but six abortion clinics in the state of Texas has returned to the spotlight. A new study suggests women are getting 13 percent fewer legal abortions one year after the law passed. We looked into the law’s effects and explained why more research is necessary.

WORKFORCE REPORT

Texas has been praised recently for its booming industry and skyrocketing population, but with such a fast-growing number of young people comes the need for adequate job training. State Comptroller Susan Combs explained a new study on the Texas workforce and talked about long-term plans to meet employers’ needs.

CARBON EMISSION CLASH

The Obama administration is attempting to cut carbon emissions from power plants, but Senate Republicans are united in disapproval. Find out why the Environmental Protection Agency is in hot water, and what the regulations could mean for Texas.

 

Capital Tonight: Dual Decisions Bring Health Care Law Back into Question

The fate of the Affordable Care Act is once again in the hands of the courts. A federal appeals court dealt a critical blow to a key component of Obamacare Tuesday. Then, just hours later, another panel ruled to keep the law in tact.

In Tuesday’s Capital Tonight, we explained how the decisions could put subsidies for health insurance at risk and what that could mean for nearly 600,000 Texans counting on them.

CONGRESSIONAL RESPONSE

The surge of immigrant children continues, while Congressional action is delayed another day.
We spoke to Congressman Roger Williams about whether any legislative answer has a chance of passing.

CAPITAL COMMENTATORS

Plus, Gov. Rick Perry has officially called in the cavalry to help DPS officials at the Texas-Mexico border. Is the move a practical solution or political stunt? Political strategists Harold Cook and Ted Delisi weighed in on that question and more.

 

 

Capital Tonight: Dewhurst Explains Details of National Guard Deployment

Gov. Rick Perry is calling for military backup to deal with the border crisis. The governor joined other state leaders Monday in announcing the deployment of 1,000 National Guard troops to the Texas-Mexico border.

In Monday’s Capital Tonight, we sat down with Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst to learn more about what role the troops will play, how the operation will be funded and the legal basis for the deployment.

IMMIGRATION ANSWERS

While state Republicans are praising the move, others are calling it a “militarization” of the border and an unnecessary step. We spoke to Denise Gilman of the UT Law School’s Immigration Clinic, who says legal — not military — resources are needed more.

ON THE AGENDA

Plus, a high-profile activist gets reprimanded by the Texas Ethics Commission. The Quorum Report‘s Harvey Kronberg gave us the background on that story and more.

Democrats, Business Leaders Respond to National Guard Deployment to Border

Minutes after Gov. Rick Perry announced the details of a plan to send 1,000 National Guard troops to the Texas-Mexico border, Texas Democrats and border-area business leaders responded with criticism.

In a press release, the Texas Democratic Party characterized Perry’s decision as political posturing.

“Local law enforcement, elected officials, and faith and community leaders in the Rio Grande Valley have expressed concerned about militarizing the border, the need to create a short-term humanitarian solution, and solving the long-term need for comprehensive immigration reform. Today, Governor Rick Perry ignored those voices. While those in the Valley are working hard to care for thousands of children in need and demanding we fix our broken immigration system, Governor Perry is continuing his routine of photo-op politics to further his Presidential aspirations.”

Sen. Wendy Davis, who is running to replace Perry as governor, said that National Guard troops weren’t necessary. Instead, she said the real need is for additional law enforcement personnel and reiterated her call for a special session to discuss extra funding for local law officials dealing with the surge of immigrants.

“If the federal government won’t act, Texas must and will.  However, we should be deploying additional deputy sheriffs to the border like local law enforcement is calling for rather than Texas National Guard units who aren’t even authorized to make arrests. Therefore, I reiterate my call for Governor Perry to immediately convene for an emergency legislative session to provide the resources to get additional law enforcement personnel on the ground immediately.”

Meanwhile, a group of business leaders in the Rio Grande Valley area is expressing concern about what effect the presence of National Guard troops will have on the local economy. They sent out a press release asking the governor to reconsider.

“Adding a military presence to our communities will only create an inaccurate image that our safe and viable border region in the Rio Grande Valley is dangerous, and that the problem is not presently being managed, which is not the case. This erroneous impression can harm our attempts to recruit new businesses. We respectfully ask the governor to rescind his orders to send the National Guard to the border.”

The group is made up of business leaders of the Rio Grande Valley and the Rio South Texas Economic Council. They pointed out new reports from the White House, which show that the number of unaccompanied minors crossing the border has dropped from 355 per day in June to about 150 children apprehended in the first two weeks of July.