Entries in Texas (85)


Texas Senate Passes Restrictive Abortion Law

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(DALLAS) Late Friday night, the Texas Senate gave final passage to a strict new law that would ban abortions after 20 weeks, require doctors to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital and require all abortions take place in "surgical centers."

Democrats call the law a backdoor ban on abortions and have vowed to take it to court. Republicans contend that the measure protects the health of women and babies.

A 19-11 vote in favor of the new abortion restrictions sends the measure to the desk of Gov. Rick Perry, who has already said that he would sign the proposal into law.

Two weeks ago, Democratic Sen. Wendy Davis managed to delay the proposal with a 13-hour fillibuster. Planned Parenthood helped to organize a post-vote protest march and rally.

According to the Washington Post, just six of Texas' 42 abortion clinics meet the new requirements, which means dozens will likely be closed. Clinics must meet the new standards by September 2014.

Texas Democrats say that they will continue to fight the legislation both in the courts as well as through public voting.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Wendy Davis: I’ll ‘Fight With Every Fiber’ to Stop Abortion Bill

ABC News(FORT WORTH, Texas) -- The Democratic state senator who is leading the fight against significant new restrictions on abortions in Texas said Gov. Rick Perry and other Republicans were hypocritical, claiming to support smaller government but actually trying to increase state intrusion in people’s lives.

Wendy Davis, the lawmaker who almost single-handedly overcame and outlasted the Republican majority in the state senate last week, is preparing for another battle on Monday. Armed with her new-found fame in Democratic circles in Texas and across the nation, Davis vowed to fight even harder.

“He’s awfully fond of talking the talk of small government,” Davis told ABC’s This Week, escalating an intense quarrel with Perry. “But this [anti-abortion legislation] is big government intrusion, there is no question about it.”

In an interview to be broadcast Sunday, Davis sat down with This Week inside the Stage West Theatre in Fort Worth, where she worked her way from being a waitress to a Harvard-educated lawyer to a heroine in the eyes of many Democrats.

She offered a window into the secrets of standing and talking for more than 11 straight hours during a legislative filibuster: her dusty running shoes (size 7 Mizuno, narrow); a catheter that allowed her to avoid bathroom breaks (“I came prepared,” she explained); and how she felt the spirit of her hero, the late Gov. Ann Richards, during her marathon session in the Capitol in Austin.

“I was going to wear just some little flat dress shoes. At the last minute, I was running out of my apartment and I thought maybe I might need something with a little more support, so I grabbed these on the way out the door,” Davis said, pointing to her sneakers that have gained Internet fame. “These are actually my running shoes. They’re dusty from the trail around Ladybird Lake.”

In an expansive interview about her life, the state of Texas politics and her future, Davis said she was heartened by the outpouring of support from women and Democrats, which catapulted her from local legislator to one of her party’s prospective rising stars. Asked if she planned to run for governor in 2014, she smiled.

Perry, who has singled out Davis for sharp criticism for her efforts to stop legislation to make Texas one of the most restrictive states in the country to get an abortion, is calling the state senate back Monday for another 30-day special session to try passing the bill.

The measure would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy and require abortion clinics to match the requirements of surgical centers. Critics of the legislation say it could force the closure of all but five of the state’s 42 abortion clinics.

“I just refuse to say I believe it will happen. I’m an eternal optimist,” Davis said. “I believe in the power of democracy and I’m going to fight with every fiber I have to keep it from passing.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Obama, Lawmakers Vow to Ease Suffering from Texas Blast

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama and lawmakers in Washington, D.C., expressed their condolences Thursday after the devastating explosion in West, Texas, pledging federal resources to help.

"Today our prayers go out to the people of West, Texas, in the aftermath of last night's deadly explosion at a fertilizer plant," Obama said in a written statement released to reporters. "A tight-knit community has been shaken, and good, hard-working people have lost their lives."

"I want to thank the first responders who worked tirelessly through the night to contain the situation and treat the wounded. My administration, through FEMA and other agencies, is in close contact with our state and local partners on the ground to make sure there are no unmet needs as search and rescue and response operations continue," Obama added.

Obama called Texas Gov. Rick Perry to offer any federal resources needed to aide in response-and-recovery efforts, a White House official told ABC.

Texas' two Republican senators, John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, released a joint statement thanking first responders and pledging any support they can offer.

"We are deeply saddened to learn of the horrific explosion in West, Texas," they said. "We grieve for those who are injured and have lost loved ones, and are grateful to the firefighters and first responders who risked their own lives to keep others safe."

On the Senate floor, Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell offered sympathy for Texas victims and called it a "difficult week," after the attacks in Boston.

"I offer my condolences to those who lost loved ones and who have people who are wounded and injure," Reid, D-Nev., said. "I'm going to do everything I can with my colleagues to ensure that this terrible tragedy has the resources of the federal government available to help the people of that city as they recover from this tragedy."

McConnell, R-Ky., said, "From the media reports we've seen, there have clearly been a great many injuries, and a terrible loss of life. We're all thinking of and praying for the victims and their families. Given the horrendous event at the Boston marathon on Monday, followed by the event near Waco last night. It's been a difficult week for all of us. Our hearts are a little bit heavier."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Rick Perry Invites Gun Manufacturers to Set Up Shop in Texas

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(AUSTIN, Texas) -- Texas Governor Rick Perry is sending a recruitment message to gun and ammunition manufacturers -- set up shop in Texas.

Perry sent letters to 26 gun and ammunition manufacturers earlier this month inviting them to consider a move to Texas if the states they currently operate in impose “restrictive laws” on their industry, according to a copy of the letter and a list of the manufacturers provided to ABC News by the governor’s office.

“A number of states in the United States are seriously considering restrictive laws impacting firearms manufacturers.  While I support the efforts of law enforcement to identify, apprehend, prosecute and punish criminals who use firearms in the commission of their crimes, I do not believe that imposing additional requirements or restrictions on businesses is the correct approach,” Perry wrote in the letter, which was dated Feb. 7.

“As you consider your options for responding to unwarranted government intrusion into your business, you may choose to consider relocating your manufacturing operations to a state that is more business-friendly.  There is no other state that fits the definition of business-friendly like Texas,” Perry wrote, pointing out financial incentives the state offers companies.

Perry sent the letter to such firearms manufacturers as Bushmaster Firearms International LLC, Glock, Inc., Sig Sauer Inc. and Smith & Wesson Holding Corporation.

Speaker of the Mississippi House of Representatives Philip Gunn made a similar overture Thursday, inviting 14 gun manufacturers to his state. He said, “Gun manufacturers are under attack in anti-Second Amendment states.”

One manufacturer which both Perry and Gunn reached out to is Magpul Industries Corp., based in Erie, Colo.  Magpul, which the Denver Post reported was “Colorado’s largest and most profitable manufacturer of high-capacity ammunition magazines,” has said it might move its shop to another state if Colorado enacts four new gun bills which passed the Colorado House of Representatives earlier this week.  Vice President Joe Biden phoned Colorado lawmakers last week, encouraging them to vote for the four bills, a White House aide confirmed.

Magpul placed a full-page ad in the Denver Post on Sunday.  “A magazine ban will do more than hurt public safety in a free Colorado.  It will force a Colorado company to leave the state,” the ad read.

ABC News reached out to Magpul for comment on the overtures made by other states, but a spokesman did not immediately respond.  In a Facebook post on Tuesday, the company said it’s still considering its options as the Colorado gun control bill heads to the state Senate for a vote.

“It appears that someone has posted or sent out some sort of notice that we are moving to a specific location. We can assure you that no decision has been made about location, and that we are still fighting this battle,” Magpul wrote on Facebook.  “We are, however, assembling our requirements and looking at various areas that would be suitable for our new home, should it come to that. We appreciate all the offers, and we will begin talking to various entities about those shortly.”

Perry has made no secret of his desire to lure businesses to Texas.  Earlier this month, he conducted a recruiting tour in California, sparring with California Gov. Jerry Brown and Lieutenant Gov. Gavin Newsom.  Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott ran advertisements in New York last month inviting New Yorkers to move to Texas after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo started a new gun-control push.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Texas Congressman Ralph Hall Oldest to Ever Serve in House

Chris Powers/Bloomberg via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Congressman Ralph Hall didn’t have to be in Washington, D.C., on Christmas Day to break a record.

The 89-year-old Texas Republican earned the distinction Tuesday of being the oldest lawmaker to ever serve in the House of Representatives.

Hall eclipsed the record previously held by North Carolina Representative Charles Manley Stedman, who was also 89 when he died in September 1930.

First elected to the House in 1980 when he was 57, Hall started as a Democrat, but like many Texas lawmakers switched over to the Republican Party in 2004.  He won a 17th term last month.

Long before he entered politics, Hall pumped gas as a young man and reportedly filled the tank of the noted 1930s bank robbers Bonnie and Clyde.

The congressman’s website says Hall is often quoted, saying, “I'd rather be respected at home than liked in Washington."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Another George Bush Considers a Run in Texas

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Political observers, take note of this name: George Prescott Bush.  The son of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and nephew of former President George W. Bush filed paperwork with the Texas Ethics Commission to run for office, and is apparently considering a run for land commissioner in the Lone Star State.

Bush’s filings did not specify the office that interests him, but his father on Wednesday sent an email to his own supporters asking for donations to George P.’s exploratory account.  In the email, Jeb specified that his son was eyeing the job of land commissioner in 2014.

“Last week, George P. opened a campaign account to explore the opportunity to run for statewide office in Texas,” Jeb wrote in the email, which was first reported by the Tampa Bay Times.  “I am writing to ask that you consider making a personal contribution as he begins his quest for public service."

“While the election is in 2014, it is important to show early financial support, particularly in a state as big as Texas," the email continued.  "The office that George is considering running for is Land Commissioner which oversees the mineral rights, commercial real estate owned and sovereign submerged lands of the State of Texas as well as veterans affairs and historic archives.”

The position carries prestige and tradition in the state of the Texas.  The Office of Commissioner of the Texas General Land Office is the oldest, continuous elected position in the state’s history.  It predates the position of governor, according to the office’s website.

And the position can serve as a launching pad in the state: The current lieutenant governor, David Dewhurst, served as land commissioner before moving to his current job.

Bush, 36, is an attractive up and comer for Republicans, and GOP officials in Texas (and nationally) have been hoping the young Bush would seek political office for some time.  Bush is the full package, so to speak: young, smart, he has military experience, having served in the U.S. Naval Reserve, he’s descended from a political dynasty, and he’s half Latino.  His mother, Columba, is Mexican-born.

He is a graduate of Rice University and the University of Texas Law School.

The election would be Bush’s first run for public office, but the national political world is very familiar to him.  He got his first exposure at age 12, when he recited the pledge of allegiance to the crowd at the 1988 Republican National Convention in New Orleans, where his grandfather was officially nominated for the top of the Republican presidential ticket.

And he has stayed involved in politics as an adult; in 2012, he co-founded Maverick PAC, a super PAC that supports Republican candidates for House and Senate.

The election is not until 2014, so voters in Texas will have plenty of time to get acquainted with the newest political figure from the well-established Bush family who runs a business-consulting firm in Fort Worth.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Texas Petition to Secede Reaches Threshold for Obama Comment

Hemera/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- A petition for Texas to secede from the union, submitted to the White House, reached the number of signatures needed to draw comment from the Obama administration Monday.

The petition appeared on a section of the White House website called "We the People" that invites users with a U.S. zip code to submit or sign petitions about policy changes they would like to see. A petition must reach 25,000 signatures within 30 days for the administration to comment on it.

The petition to "Peacefully grant the State of Texas to withdraw from the United States of America and create its own NEW government," was submitted on Friday of last week. Just three days later, it zoomed past the 25,000 mark at 3:22 p.m. Monday and kept going.

In order to sign a petition, users must register with the site using a valid email addresses and entering their zip codes. The site's terms of participation indicates it has mechanisms in place to block spam, but it does not say anything about verifying zip codes or state residency.

Many signatures on the petition came from Texas, but some also claimed to be from other states, including Flagstaff, Ariz., Pinebluff, Ark., and Rio Rancho, N.M. Some did not publicly list their residency.

At least 17 other states have similar petitions to the Texas secession request on the We the People forum including New Jersey, New York, Montana, Colorado, Louisiana, Georgia, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, North Carolina, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, South Carolina, Oregon and Michigan. The closest behind Texas was Louisiana with 15,617 signatures.

In 2009, Texas Gov. Rick Perry hinted that anti-Washington sentiment could lead residents of his state to seek independence from the union.

"There's a lot of different scenarios," Perry said. "We've got a great union. There's absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that. But Texas is a very unique place, and we're a pretty independent lot to boot."

At time of publishing, Perry's office had not responded to a request for comment.

So far, the president has not commented on the petition and there is no guarantee that he will. The terms of participation give the president some loopholes.

"To avoid the appearance of improper influence, the White House may decline to address certain procurement, law enforcement, adjudicatory, or similar matters properly within the jurisdiction of federal departments or agencies, federal courts, or state and local government in its response to a petition," the site says.

The White House has refused to comment on a requests for an investigation into allegations that Rep. Chris Dodd took bribes, clemency for Native American activist Leonard Peltier and the release of accused WikiLeaks whistleblower Bradley Manning.

The White House did respond to a petition that gained fewer than 13,000 signatures this fall: the petition seeking the White House beer recipe.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Texas State Senator Wins Election After Death

Rick Scibelli/Getty Images(HOUSTON) -- Democrat Mario Gallegos won re-election to his Texas state Senate seat on Tuesday. Gallegos, who had served since 1994, overwhelmingly beat his challenger, Republican newcomer, R.W. Bray. But the victory is, to say the least, bittersweet.

Sen. Gallegos won his re-election bid three weeks after his death.

Gallegos died on Oct. 16 of complications related to liver disease, but his family kept a close eye on the election results in hope of keeping his seat Democratic.

Theresa Gallegos, Gallegos’s widow, told ABC News that the family felt compelled to proceed with his election because, as she said, “It was his legacy, first of all. He worked so hard for his community and we were all involved in his work.”

“He … instilled in us all of his hard work and he fought so hard to keep that seat Democratic,” she said. Sen. Gallegos served as a Democrat in the 6th District of the Texas Senate, in a primarily red state.

The re-election of Gallegos has prompted Texas Gov. Rick Perry to schedule a special election sometime in December.

According to Theresa Gallegos, it was her husband’s wish to have Texas State Representative Carol Alvarado succeed him. She tells ABC News that Alvarado has expressed interest in serving in the Democratic senatorial seat.

“He talked about it many times. [Mario] asked that we as a family try to endorse her and help her continue on to the senate seat. They both had the same goals and [Mario] believed that she would continue his work.”

Rep. Alvarado did not respond to requests for an interview with ABC News.

Though unusual, the posthumous election of a politician is not unheard of. In 2000, the late Gov. Mel Carnahan beat out incumbent Republican Sen. John Ashcroft for a U.S. Senate seat from Missouri. Carnahan’s widow, Jean, became the unofficial Democratic candidate, and was appointed to the Senate seat by then-Missouri Gov. Roger Wilson.

Carnahan died in a plane crash a few weeks before the November election. By coincidence, both Gallegos and Carnahan died on Oct. 16.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Ted Cruz Wins in Texas GOP Senate Runoff

Bill Clark/Roll Call(AUSTIN, Texas) -- Tea Party star Ted Cruz won the Texas Republican Senate primary Tuesday night, defeating “establishment” candidate and longtime Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst.

In the past several weeks, victory for Cruz, the former solicitor general, had begun to look increasingly likely, with polls showing him ahead of Dewhurst, and major national Tea Party stars like Sarah Palin and Sen. Jim DeMint turning out to campaign for him in the final days leading up to Tuesday's runoff.  However, for the bulk of the race Cruz had been the underdog, lacking in the wealth and name recognition enjoyed by Dewhurst, who has been the lieutenant governor under Rick Perry since 2003.

While Cruz, 41, may have had the majority of national star power on his side, Dewhurst, 66, had the backing of many in the Texas political establishment, including Perry.  Dewhurst also enjoyed a huge financial advantage over Cruz.  According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Dewhurst poured $11 million of his own personal fortune -- he founded a successful energy company called Falcon Seaboard -- into his campaign, spending a total of $19 million, as compared to Cruz’s $7 million spent. 

But ultimately Dewhurst’s wallet was no match for Cruz’s political prowess.

Cruz painted his opponent as a moderate who would be willing, if not eager, to compromise with Democrats in Congress. 

Dewhurst has a very conservative record -- he’s anti-abortion rights, he supports a balanced budget amendment, and on Monday morning, he stopped by a Chick-Fil-A to show his support for the restaurant embroiled in a controversy regarding their president’s recent comments on gay marriage. 

Nevertheless, Cruz and his supporters pointed to compromises Dewhurst had made with Democrats in the state legislature, and argued that his record was merely a reflection of Perry’s conservative agenda and did not provide an accurate representation of Dewhurst’s own governing style.

The two men battled fiercely; neither imploded at any time, neither veered off their course, and the race remained close throughout the two months in between the state and presidential primary on May 29, when no one candidate received more than 50 percent of the vote, forcing a runoff. 

But in the end, strong poll numbers, strong surrogates and a slew of outside spending money from Tea Party affiliated groups like “FreedomWorks” and “Club For Growth” came together to give Cruz momentum that carried him over the finish line.

Cruz will go up against Democratic challenger state Rep. Paul Sadler in the fall in the open race to fill the seat left open by Kay Bailey Hutchison’s retirement, but he is widely expected to win because of the state’s strong Republican leanings.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Texas Voters Head to Polls in Senate Primary Runoff

Bill Clark/Roll Call(AUSTIN, Texas) -- After a long, expensive and fiercely-fought battle, the Texas GOP Senate primary will come to a close on Tuesday as voters cast ballots in the runoff between Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and former Solicitor General Ted Cruz.

Dewhurst, 66, and Cruz, 41, are facing off for the second time in their race to win the GOP nomination for Senate to fill the seat left vacant by Kay Bailey Hutchison’s retirement.  The two men battled for the first time in the state’s presidential and congressional primary on May 29.

But Texas election code stipulates that a candidate must receive 50 percent or more of the vote in a primary in order to win the nomination outright, and both men failed to hit that mark among a crowded primary field in May.

Although Dewhurst held a solid lead over Cruz in the May primary -- he finished with about 45 percent while Cruz received about 34 percent -- recent polling has shown Cruz ahead.  And while ultimately neither candidate’s victory will change the outcome of the race in the end -- the GOP nominee will be heavily favored to win the Senate race in November -- a Cruz victory would be a big win for the Tea Party.

Dewhurst, the longtime lieutenant governor to Texas governor and Tea Party star Rick Perry, is viewed as the “establishment” candidate in the race.  Cruz, the state’s first Hispanic solicitor general, is a rising Tea Party star.  He has garnered support from national leaders affiliated with the movement, including Jim DeMint, Rick Santorum and Sarah Palin, all of whom turned out to campaign for Cruz this weekend.

Dewhurst is not lacking in conservative backing either.  Perry and Mike Huckabee have both appeared in ads for the candidate, and he has received endorsements from prominent pro-life groups like Texans for Life.  But Cruz and his supporters have questioned whether Dewhurst is indeed a “true conservative,” citing compromises Dewhurst made with Democrats in the state legislature during his time as lieutenant governor.

Judging by their records, and by the deeply red voter demographic in Texas, it’s highly likely that both men would be a dependable Republican vote in the Senate.  Nevertheless, the symbolism of Cruz’s outsider status, coupled with his prominent supporters, illustrates the boost to the movement his victory would bring.

In addition to the Tea Party vs. establishment narrative, the other story line that has dominated the Texas GOP Senate race is the money raised and spent.  The race is the most expensive Senate race in the country in terms of money spent, and the second-most expensive in terms of money raised so far (the Massachusetts Senate race has seen the most money raised), according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Cruz and Dewhurst have spent a combined total of $26 million, $19 million of which has come from Dewhurst.  The founder of a successful energy company, Falcon Seaboard, Dewhurst has spent $11 million out of his own pocket.  A lot of outside money has been spent on the race as well -- about $13.5 million.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio