Weekly Legislative Update

Final Vote on Access to Sonogram Bill will be on Monday, March 3 This week the House debated HB 15, the Access to Sonogram Bill. The bill was brought up for debate on Wednesday, recommitted to the State Affairs committee that evening, and brought up again on Thursday. During Thursday's debate, we were pleased to see that the confidential informed consent amendment passed. Several weakening amendments were rejected. After several hours of debate, the bill was passed to engrossment, or third reading. The House will meet to debate the bill on Monday, March 3, and will need to pass it one more time for final passage, after which the bill will move to the Senate.  Thank you to all advocates who have responded to our action alerts and contacted their Representatives to ask for support on this important legislation. It is not too late to make calls if you haven't:
 
Find out who your Representative is and his or her contact information 
hereIf you'd like us to automatically insert your name, city, and other personal information into your message, please update your profile with that information here Sample Message: "Hello, my name is  Name  and I am a Catholic in City , Texas and as a constituent I ask that you support House Bill 15 for final passage. This legislation would require a physician to review a woman's sonogram with her prior to her having an abortion. The woman is not required to view the sonogram . I support this bill because it provides the mother with more information about her unborn child and may help the mother realize the humanity of her unborn child and choose life. Thank you for your time. For more information you can contact the Texas Catholic Conference at 512-339-9882." Please act by March 7, 2011. You can find out more information on this bill and the debate on the bill at the Texas Legislature Online bill page here Texas Bishops, along with other senior Texas religious leaders, issued a statement this week in calling for a new and gracious tone in the State immigration debate. Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, said that faith communities support immigration reform but see it as a federal issue outside the control of the Texas Legislature.  "Our nation's immigration system is flawed and results in suffering not only within our borders, but also throughout the rest of the world. Our faith traditions have called strenuously and tirelessly for Congress to reform our federal immigration system, and we will continue to do so," DiNardo said. You can read the full statement online here. We encourage all religious leaders to sign on to the statement, you can do so online here.  We also released a joint statement with the Catholic Health Association of Texas on Catholic Health Care in Texas. You can read it online here, and you can read it in Spanish here.

We testified on several bills this week, including bills relating to immigration law enforcement, affordable housing, the death penalty, smoke-free work environments, and choose life license plates. You can view a list of all of testimony online here. We were pleased to see SB 257 (Choose Life License Plates) voted favorably from committee. We also have a few bills in committee next week which we will be testifying on, you can view these bills below. Next week Most Rev. Gustavo García‚ÄźSiller, Archbishop of the Archdiocese of San Antonio and Most Rev. Joe Vásquez, Bishop of the Diocese of Austin, will be participating in a press conference on the Payday and Auto Title loan issue. Please show your support for closing the loophole in state law that allows payday, auto title, and other consumer loans to carry annual percentage rates upwards of 500% by signing the Texas Faith for Fair Lending's Petition online here. Parishes can download the resolution here or request postcards here. You can read Cardinal DiNardo's letter to his elected officials on this issue here.

Bills in Committee Next Week
The following bills are in committee next week,  
click here for a full action alert on these bills. Please check the web site for the most up-to-date listing, as some committee agendas have less than a week's notice. 
  • HB 289 - Human Trafficking
  • HB 938 - Access to health care coverage
  • SB 35 - Special education programs
  • SB 228 - Stem cell research
  • HB 710 - Access to food assistance
  • HB 1481 - Person-first, respectful language for people with disabilities