Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Texas: The People's Filibuster derails The Great Texas Screwjob...for now, anyway...

By now, most people who care about this sort of thing are aware that in Texas, State Sen. Wendy Davis filibustered their SB5 yesterday.  SB5 would have all but completely banned abortion services in Texas.

The Republicans in the Texas lege tried and failed to pass the provisions of the bill during the regular session of the legislature.  Upset by that failure, they called a special session to railroad through all of the provisions in one measure.

However, under the rules governing specials sessions in Texas, they have a limited amount of time to pass bills and once that time is gone, any unpassed bills die.

Davis was attempting to hold the floor until the time for the special session expired.

The Republicans in the Texas state senate pulled out all the stops in their attempts to break the filibuster.  They used hyper-technical interpretations of the rules of the Senate, openly ignoring those rules, and just plain cheating.

They forced her off of the floor but the other Democrats in her caucus took up the fight, mostly using points of parliamentary inquiry to run out the clock.  Call it "legislative stall ball".

And when it looked like that the Rs we just going to ride roughshod over democracy and women in TX, hundreds of citizens in the Senate gallery just started cheering.

Loudly enough to drown out the Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, the conductor of the railroad chair of the Texas State Senate.

And long enough to finish running out the clock on the special session.

From the Dallas Morning News, written by Christy Hoppe and Claire Z. Cardona -
A bill that would have given Texas one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country died amid chaos at the end of the special legislative session overnight.

After Republicans used strict interpretations of Senate rules to knock Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, off her marathon filibuster intended to block a vote on the measure before the midnight Tuesday deadline, abortion-rights advocates watching the session erupted in a loud protest.


Shortly after 2 a.m. Wednesday, a very upset Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst finally came to the dais to address the press and chamber on the fate of Senate Bill 5 and the crowd that at times drowned out the proceedings.

“Members, the constitutional time for the first called session for the 83rd Legislature has expired,” Dewhurst said. “Senate Bill 5 cannot be signed in the presence of the Senate at this time and therefore cannot be enrolled. It’s been fun, but, uh, see you soon.

"This is the most incredible thing I’ve ever seen in my life," Dewhurst continued. "An unruly mob using Occupy Wall Street tactics has tried all day to derail legislation that has been intended to protect the lives and the safety of women and babies. So I’m very frustrated."

I didn't watch the entire filibuster, tuning in to the live feed at the website of The Texas Tribune with around two hours to go (got to see the "People's Filibuster" part though; more than a little proud of my fellow citizens for that).

During the period that I watched the proceedings live, the best line was actually delivered by State Sen. Leticia Van De Putte.  After repeatedly trying to gain recognition so she could speak, but repeatedly being ignored by the chair, she was finally granted leave to speak.  Upon which, she asked -
"At what point must a female senator raise her hand or her voice to be recognized over her male colleagues?” she asked as the chamber erupted in cheers.

Lydia DePillis of the Washington Post has a good summary of the events surrounding last night's happenings here.

The New York Times has coverage here, including video links.

Texas blog Juanita Jean's| The World's Most Dangerous Beauty Salon, Inc. has coverage here.

However, almost even before the echoes of the cheers of the protesters faded at the Texas capitol, Gov. Rick Perry (R-Good Hair), like would-be tinhorn despots everywhere who find their wills thwarted, threw a tantrum and called a do-over.

From CBS News -
Gov. Rick Perry on Wednesday called a second special session of the Texas Legislature to pass widespread abortion restrictions across the nation's second-largest state, after the first attempt by Republicans died overnight following a marathon one-woman filibuster.

Perry ordered lawmakers to meet again on July 1 to act on the abortion proposals, as well as separate bills that would boost highway funding and deal with a juvenile justice issue. The sweeping abortion rules would close nearly all the state's abortion clinics and impose other widespread restrictions.
 Let women, the Texas Democrats, and all of us, enjoy Tuesday's victory.  The hard work starts again Monday.

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