Sen. Wendy Davis

Livestream: Senate abortion bill filibuster

Senate abortion bill filibuster underway

Senate Democrats are making a final stand in an attempt to kill abortion legislation. Sen. Wendy Davis began a floor filibuster around 11:17 a.m. and will attempt to talk until the special session ends at midnight.

Thus far, Davis has recapped all of the abortion bills filed during the regular session, explaining why each failed to pass. She spent time reading testimony from committee meetings during the regular session and said earlier she intends to read the testimony that was not heard during a committee hearing last week. Currently, Davis is reading medical research backing up her claim that the stricter rules do not improve women’s health care.

Under Senate rules, Davis is prohibited from eating, drinking or taking a bathroom break. Davis will also have to stand at her desk without sitting or leaning. Other members are allowed to interrupt to ask questions.

Davis’ attempt to kill the abortion bill may also effectively kill two other pieces of legislation on the special session call. Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst placed SB 5 first on the floor calendar, meaning if Davis does speak until midnight, lawmakers will not have an opportunity to vote on transportation funding or new juvenile justice legislation. Before beginning her speech, Davis indicated the Democrats supported both pieces of legislation and were disappointed they would not be put up for a vote.

 

Senate votes to audit Texas Enterprise Fund

The Senate today voted in favor of Sen. Wendy Davis’ bill establishing an auditing system for the Texas Enterprise Fund. Senate Bill 1390 requires the state auditor to “determine the efficiency and effectiveness” of the fund. It also requires the auditor to file a report to the legislature by January 1, 2015.

The Texas Enterprise Fund was established in 2003. It is a taxpayer-funded initiative used to offer financial incentives to lure companies to Texas. It was instrumental in attracting corporations like National Instruments and HID Global.

The fund has its share of critics. Gov. Perry has come under scrutiny amid accusations of crony capitalism and critics find issue with the fund’s limited oversight. Supporters of the bill passed today hope this bill will help increase the fund’s transparency.

In a statement last week, Sen. Davis said:

“It’s unconscionable that, after spending nearly a half-billion dollars in taxpayer money, the Enterprise Fund has yet to be held to the scrutiny of a comprehensive state audit. Texans cannot be confident their taxes are being appropriately or effectively used without the assurance provided by these audits.I think it’s significant that members of both parties have joined together in support of greater transparency for this Fund.”

The bill now heads to the House of Representatives.

 

Senate approves two-year state budget

The Texas Senate approved a $195.5 billion budget for 2014-2015 by a vote of 29-2 this afternoon. The dissenting votes came from Sen. Wendy Davis (D-Fort Worth) and Sen. Sylvia Garcia (D-Houston).

Both Davis and Garcia wanted to see more money put into education funding, which took a $5.4 billion hit last session.

The Texas House Appropriations Committee is expected to pass a version of the budget Thursday. The House has put together a very similar plan.