The State Senate announced today that a hearing on SB 1, the latest iteration of Texas's back-door abortion ban, would receive a hearing in the Health and Human Services Committee on Monday at 10 a.m. Witnesses may begin registering against the bill at 9 a.m.
The Senate has chosen to hold this hearing in a smaller committee room rather than on the floor of the Senate, suggesting that the efforts to shut Texans out of this process continue.
Last night, over 1000 Texans were left waiting to testify against HB 2, the House version of the bill, when State Affairs Committee Chair Byron Cook ended the meeting. Cook even interrupted his own colleage, Rep. Sylvester Turner, and refused to allow any amendments to be considered for the bill.
More about the gross abuse of the legislative process and what you can do about it below the jump. SMALLER ROOMS, FEWER WITNESSES
Senate Health and Human Services Committee Chair Jane Nelson usually holds these hearings in the full Senate. A listing of committee hearings from the regular session makes clear that HHS usually meets in the Senate.
During the first special session, the HHS heard the bill on the Senate floor. Throngs of orange-clad protestors ringed the Senate floor, while women dressed in 1950's attire glared down from the Gallery at the Republicans trying to take us back to pre-Roe back-alleys and coat-hanger abortions.
Monday's hearing has been scheduled for room E1.036, where the Senate Finance committee usually meets. The room is much smaller than the Senate and will hold fewer witnesses. It will also prevent an “unruly mob” of hundreds of silent orange-clad protestors from being able to look down on the proceedings.
This matches the decision by the House to hold last night's hearing in a small extension committee room rather than in the auditorium, which holds more people and was used for overflow viewing last night.
Notably, there are speakers in the hallway outside of E.1036 and it is one of the larger rooms in the extension, but it's not the Senate and it will still physically force people out of the room while their rights are being debated.
Bottom line: this room choice means that Texans are still being shut out of the process. We're shut out physically by smaller rooms and shut out vocally by being denied the right to testify against these bills.
Last night's witness registration tallies have been updated by House staff. Originally they reported more sign-ins from individuals supporting the bills. However, per the Texas Tribune, 2,181 people registered against HB 2, while 1,355 registered in favor of it. The anti-choicers may have had a head start, but we are stronger in number and stronger in our support for the real safety of Texas women.
Our work isn't done. We need to be at the Capitol bright and early on Monday morning to sign in against this bill and continue fighting it. Republicans can try to force us out, but we deserve a chance to speak.
Monday, July 8 | Texas Capitol | Room E1.036
9:00 a.m. — Witness Registration Begins
10:00 a.m. — Senate HHS Hearing Begins
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Come early, stay as long as you have to, and as always, wear orange!
The posted notice is below. Note the request for 20 copies of written testimony.
COMMITTEE: Health & Human Services
TIME & DATE: 10:00 AM, Monday, July 08, 2013
PLACE: E1.036 (Finance Room)
CHAIR: Senator Jane Nelson
SB 1 Hegar | et al.
Relating to the regulation of abortion procedures, providers, and facilities; providing penalties.
Witness registration begins at 9am outside of room E1.036 (Finance Room).
Time allotted to each witness will be limited to 2 minutes in order to maximize the committee's ability to hear from as many individuals wishing to testify as possible. Written testimony may be turned into the clerk to be distributed to members.
If submitting written testimony, please provide 20 copies with your name on each.