Pro-life legislators and Texas Right to Life spearheaded the effort to reallocate $61 million of family planning, a revenue stream for the abortion industry, to other more worthy state programs in the State of Texas’ budget in House Bill 1 that was passed late Sunday night.
Pro-Life Republican Representatives carried seven amendments to HB 1 that successfully redirect $61 million dollars and each amendment passed with over 100 votes. The highest vote total against the amendments that the pro-abortion opposition garnered was only 40 votes. According to Texas Right to Life federal law prohibits further reductions of family planning services offered by the state, but this significant 37% blow will severely hurt the abortion industry.
Pro-Life Representative Wayne Christian helped lead the floor debate to remove $61 million in Texas taxpayer funds from the abortion industry and personally carried an amendment that moved $3.3 million from the abortion industry to serve families with Autism.
The state funded Autism program was totally defunded in the budget bill, House Bill 1, before Rep. Christian’s amendment moved much needed funds back into the program. Rep. Christian’s amendment passed by 106 to 34 with all present Republicans voting “yes,” plus three Democrats, Reps. Lozano, Martinez, and Muñoz. After passing the amendment Rep. Christian stated “I will stay vigilant in Austin growing a culture of life until that day when every life, born and unborn, is loved and defended by our laws.”
HB 1 still has to be debated and passed by the State Senate, but Rep. Christian anticipates the Senators will preserve the House’s overwhelmingly supported Pro-Life amendments, which were also supported and called for by our Pro-Life governor Rick Perry.
For a blow by blow account of the 7 pro-life amendments what were passed read below the line. The blow by blow account is provided by Texas Right to Life.
State Representative Randy Weber (R-Pearland) led with the first amendment to restore funding to the state’s program for alternatives to abortion. In 2005, Texas became the tenth state to fund alternatives, and the program consistently meets and exceeds goals set by Texas Health and Human Services Commission. Representative Weber articulately explained the program and defended Life despite profane attacks from Representative Mike Villareal (D-San Antonio), who poorly represents one of the largest service providers in the alternatives program, Seton Maternity Home. Representative Villareal even served as master of ceremonies for one of Seton’s events a few years back, yet he still viciously attacked the program. Despite the opposition spewing the same old scripted lies, Representative Weber’s amendment won by 100 to 44 with 2 present-not-voting. Two Republicans, Sarah Davis and Beverly Woolley, both from Houston voted “no,” while four Democrats courageously voted for the amendment: Tracy King from Batesville, J.M. Lozano from Kingsville, Mando Martinez from Weslaco, and Sergio Muñoz from Palmview.
Representative Wayne Christian (R-Center) then transferred family planning funds to serve people with Autism. The Austism program was totally defunded in the budget bill. The Christian amendment passed by 106 to 34 with all present Republicans voting “yes,” plus three Democrats (Lozano, Martinez, and Muñoz).
Representative Dwayne Bohac (R-Houston) offered the third amendment that redirected funds to the Mental Health Services for Children Program. Before this vote was taken, Representative Sylvester Turner delivered an impassioned speech, accusing Bohac and Pro-Life members of forcing their colleagues into choosing which children to help, predictably avoiding the question of how the abortion industry helps children. Representative Turner rejected the call to take a stand and urged his Democrat colleagues to “white-light,” which means to push the white voting light (rather than the green or red light) to signify “present, not voting.” After a strong and respectful defense by Representative Bohac, his amendment passed by 96 to 6 with 44 present, not voting.
Representative Jim Murphy (R-Houston) was next and moved funds to EMS and Trauma Care. This was Representative Murphy’s first chance to vocally defend Life on the House floor, and he did a fantastic job, confirming that he is ready for more demanding floor duties for the Cause. He was well-prepared with statistics and details about emergency medical services, and his amendment passed by 91 to 20 with 25 present, not voting.
Representative Sid Miller (R-Stephenville), also the sponsor of the sonogram bill) presented the largest amendment to move $21 million from family planning to Early Childhood Intervention programs. As with his sonogram bill, Representative Miller thoroughly knew his subject matter and was more than a worthy opponent for anyone who challenged him. Representative Miller earned 104 votes, was opposed by 37, and five were present and not voting. All present Republicans supported the Miller amendment along with Democrats Pete Gallego (Alpine), Scott Hochberg (Houston), JM Lozano, Mando Martinez, and Sergio Muñoz.
Representative Bill Zedler (R-Arlington) delivered yet another victory with his amendment that restored some funds to services for the deaf, blind, and those with multiple disabilities. His amendment passed by 101 to 38 with five present not voting. Representative Zedler openly and unabashedly flaunted that his amendment would take our tax dollars away from the abortion industry. All present Republicans plus Democrat Representatives Tracy King, JM Lozano, Sergio Muñoz, Chente Quintanilla voted for this move.
Representative Warren Chisum (R-Pampa) successfully offered an unchallenged provision that could restrict the way some of the remaining family planning funds are disbursed.
Representative Jodie Laubenberg (R-Parker) snatched the last $9 million away from the abortion industry, the cherry on the dessert. By this midnight hour, members were simply ready to finish, and Representative Laubenberg was asked to stand down since the angry pro-aborts were determined not to give a final victory to Life. She would not leave that last $9 million on the table and even won over Representative Yvonne Davis (D-Dallas), who usually supports abortion rights but wanted to increase funds to the STAR program to reach at-risk youth.
Representative Charles Perry (R-Lubbock), a freshman, had filed five amendments on behalf of Texas Right to Life to redirect the whole $61 million in case our other piecemeal reallocations failed. He was also prepared to amend his amendment to take any remaining amount if necessary. However, early in the day, Representative Perry was able to maneuver funds to other programs through some of the amendments. Representative Perry ignored intense pressure to break the back-up strategy and succeeded with saving lives by his redirects.
State Representative Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola), recipient of Texas Right to Life’s prestigious 2006 Horizon Award, served as the point man and coordinator of all the Pro-Life amendments on the House floor. He ensured that the numbers stayed within the bounds of legally-allowable cuts, verified the rules of funding strategies, and monitored the technicalities of the amendment language. Representative Hughes effectively served as the Pro-Life whip throughout the entire week leading up to and throughout budget day, fielding inquiries from agencies, recruiting amendment sponsors, crunching numbers, confirming statistics for programs, and working with leadership to facilitate the consideration of our amendments. For a time such as yesterday, Representative Hughes was called.
Representative Larry Phillips (R-Sherman) has a rider, an administrative provision that “rides” on the greater budget bill as an amendment, that would direct Texas Department of State Health Services and Texas Health and Human Services Commission to prioritize the way in which any remaining family planning funds are distributed. The opposition has tagged the Phillips rider on a technicality that we hope can be resolved on Sunday. Representative Phillips also encouraged all the authors to stand firm, and he distributed the Texas Right to Life amendment/rider package on the House floor to the members so they would know for what to watch and how to vote.