The swirling force of Texas politics

Legislature Poised for Busy Thursday

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    The Texas Legislature will be busy again Thursday, discussing the proposed abortion bill, a balanced budget amendment and an Arizona-style illegal immigration law.

    The Texas House will begin debate on a resolution calling for a federal balanced budget amendment.

    The State Sovereignty Committee will consider five different versions of the resolution on Thursday.

    Gov. Rick Perry and allies have said the federal government should operate the same way the Texas government does--without deficit spending.

    The legislation is part of a list of emergency items Perry put on the fast track for action early in this session.

    Comptroller says cuts will not solve deficit issues

    The Texas comptroller told the House Appropriations Committee that she can't imagine solving the current budget crisis through cuts in services alone.

    Susan Combs addressed a meeting that appeared engineered to be a reality check for conservatives who think cutting state services will solve the problem. The current two-year budget cycles that ends Aug. 31 is $4.3 billion short. The Texas Constitution requires all debts to be paid at the end of every two years.

    The state is facing another projected $27 billion shortfall in the next budget.

    Combs said lawmakers have three options: continue cuts, defer paying bills or tap the Rainy Day Fund. She said cutting $4.3 billion from the budget by August would be virtually impossible. The state could only save $2 billion through deferrals.

    Abortion bill to be debated Thursday

    Legislation requiring women to get a sonogram before having an abortion faces another round of debate in the Texas House.

    The bill was expected to be heard in the House Thursday after Democrats delayed it with parliamentary procedures a day earlier.

    The sonogram bill, put on the fast track by Republican Gov. Rick Perry, would require doctors to perform a sonogram at least 24 hours before an abortion is performed. It is the first substantive legislation to hit the floor of the House this year.

    The Senate has already passed its own version of the bill.

    Texas mulls Arizona-style illegal immigration law

    State and local police officers would be allowed -- but not required -- to help enforce federal immigration laws under a compromise plan working its way through the Texas Legislature.

    The bill is a far cry from some of the harsh crackdowns some lawmakers proposed, but it still sparked often emotional testimony in a House committee Wednesday night. Dozens of supporters and detractors packed a hearing room outside the Texas Capitol, eager for a chance to air their views despite the late hour.

    Supporters generally said the legislation would help police identify illegal immigrants who commit crimes in Texas. Critics said it would lead to racial profiling, detract from real police work and give license to rogue agents who want to harass immigrants.

    The bill's author, Republican Rep. Burt Solomons, said it would prohibit so-called "sanctuary cities" and law enforcement entities from adopting policies that keep police and criminal investigators from providing immigration enforcement assistance. Republican Gov. Rick Perry put the issue on the fast track at the Capitol after making it a major theme of his 2010 re-election campaign. (read more here)

    AP writers Chris Tomlinson and Jay Root contributed to this report.