Texas Matters: The battle over abortion hit a boiling point in Texas this week and it all started with a 13-hour filibuster attempt by Sen. Wendy Davis of Fort Worth, which was cut short, continued with Sen. Leticia Van De Putte of San Antonio challenging the Republican (male) dominance of the floor, which finally pushed the room into a frenzy with one ruckus crowd of supporters. This did not sit well with the governor.
Parents, students and several lawmakers crowded into the governor's press room to witness Gov. Rick Perry signing legislation into law that changes the state’s public education system.
While there were a handful of bills on hand, the one that stood out most was a bill that reduces the number of high-stakes exams students are required to take from the current 15 standardized tests down to five.
Veterans who have burn injuries can now ask their utility companies for discounts, no matter where in Texas they reside now that the Burned Veterans Bill has passed in the Legislature.
State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte sought to expand the benefits of a bill passed in the last session to the statewide population of burned veterans.
The bill allows investor-owned utilities, municipal co-ops and retail electric providers to establish discount programs similar to the one that has proven so successful in San Antonio the last couple of years.
Lawmakers managed to postpone a high-stakes testing bill on the first Friday the Senate has worked this session.
Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst said it was an agreement in principle that the Senate would take up and pass a House bill being carried by Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, which reduces the number of end-of-course exams from 15 to five.
"But apparently a number of members - principally Democrat, but some Republicans - had not been in the meeting and felt like they had not been briefed enough. And I understand that, I understand that," Patrick said.
The idea behind Senate Bill 94 was to hurt human traffickers by shutting down their internet connection to customers. The law was intended to stop websites from selling ads for sex.
The women, who are often underage, are trafficked for sex, their traffickers get the money, and the websites also get a cut. The Aim Group, an online media analyst, estimated that Backpage.com took in $22 million last year from escort advertising.
State Sen. Leticia Van De Putte expressed her outrage and disappointment toward the Texas Education Agency commissioner and his re-vamped public schools rating system.
Van De Putte said Education Commissioner Michael Williams’ reason for changing the school rating system from language of "acceptable or unacceptable" to a report card system of an "A through F" is an insult.