Pro-life Success, Marriage and Religious Freedom Updates

May 29, 2015
Pro-Life Judicial Bypass Reform Passes, Insurance Reform Dies

An important pro-life bill supported by Texas Values Action, HB 3994 sponsored by Rep. Geanie Morrison and Sen. Charles Perry, passed the Texas Senate this week. The bill has a final procedural step in the House and then will be headed to Governor Abbott’s desk to be signed. HB 3994 gives pregnant minors and parents protections from the broken judicial bypass system that allows minors to seek permission from a judge to undergo secret abortions without any parental involvement. Current Texas Law requires both parental consent and notice before an elective abortion, but pregnant minors may get permission from a judge to undergo the abortion without any parental involvement. The abortion industry and activist pro-abortion lawyers have been abusing this judicial bypass process and exploiting parental rights. The bill would close these harmful loopholes and better protect pregnant minors. Read more.

Unfortunately, another important pro-life bill, SB 575, failed to be taken up for a vote in the Texas House this week, killing the bill. SB 575 would have brought pro-life reform to the Texas insurance market by removing automatic coverage for abortion from health insurance plans to ensure Texans’ tax dollars and premiums would not be subsidizing abortion. SB 575 passed the Texas Senate in early May but was not placed on the House Calendar until the final day for Senate bills to pass, making it easier for Democrats to use stall tactics to run the clock out on the bill.

Pastor Bill Headed to Gov. Abbott, Other Marriage and Religious Freedom Bills Die

The religious freedom and marriage bill, the Pastor Protection Bill (SB 2065), is now headed to Gov. Abbott’s desk for his signature. But other important stand-alone bills protecting state sovereignty over marriage (HB 4105) and protecting religious freedom of child welfare providers (HOME Bill, HB 3864) were not taken up for votes in the Texas House. Because the original bills were not given a floor vote, the opportunities for success for these important bills were in the form of amendments to other bills. On Tuesday, Rep. Scott Sanford in the House and leaders in the Texas Senate, including Sen. Donna Campbell, led efforts to amend similar language to HB 3864 onto bills in the Texas House and Senate, respectively. Unfortunately, anti-religious freedom Democrats were determined to kill entire bills just to stop this religious freedom language from moving forward and tight deadlines played into their favor.

On HB 4105, the Preservation of State Sovereignty over Marriage Act was successfully added to HB 2977 in the Texas Senate thanks to the leaders of the Texas Senate and pro-marriage and pro-life Democrat Sen. Eddie Lucio. The bill had a final opportunity to pass on Wednesday but faced intense opposition from Democrats to remove the marriage protection language from the bill. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick did not give into their demands and refused to allow the bill to be debated without the marriage protection language included, and ultimately the bill was not brought up for a vote. Instead, the Republicans and Democrat Sen. Lucio in the Texas Senate passed a resolution affirming their support for marriage between one man and one woman in the Texas Constitution. The debate on the resolution turned into a strong discussion on the marriage issue, with several Senators making strong statements affirming our state marriage laws.

Texans had every right to expect that these important bills would become law. Their widespread support among legislators and the activism of thousands of our grassroots activists across the state to support these efforts give us confidence that we can build even more momentum to protect religious freedom and marriage on these issues. Faith-based child welfare providers make up 25% of such providers in Texas, and they should not be punished by the government for following their faith. Government officials that trample on our Texas Constitution and marriage laws should be held accountable and penalized for their rogue and lawless actions. We expect Attorney General Ken Paxton, Governor Greg Abbott, and other state leaders to fully exercise their power and influence to vigorously enforce our marriage laws and Constitution moving forward.

Texas House Targets Your Free Speech

A faction of Republicans voted with Democrats this week to pass SB 19, gutting an ethics reform bill passed by the Senate and turning it into a bill attacking the First Amendment rights of Texans. The effort led by Rep. Bryon Cook (R – Corsicana) and House leadership would seek to use IRS-like tactics to silence and intimidate non-profits, and potentially churches, by requiring non-profits that attempt to engage in political speech to expose their donors, among many other unconstitutional provisions. Last session, Gov. Rick Perry vetoed similar legislation stating it would have a “chilling effect” on First Amendment rights. The bill now heads to conference committee where Senate leaders have made it clear they will not accept any effort to “weaken the First Amendment, chill free speech, or restrict the ability of individuals to engage in the political or legislative process.” Read more about the bill.

Rep. Sanford Talks Pastor Protection Bill

On last Saturday’s Texas Values Report, Jonathan spoke with State Rep. Scott Sanford about the recently passed Pastor Protection Bill, which he authored in the House, and efforts to protect religious freedom. The Pastor Protection Bill is on the way to the Governor’s desk to be signed into law. The radio show airs weekly on Saturdays from 12:00 – 12:30 PM CST on The Bridge, KTXW 1120 AM in Austin. The Bridge can be heard in over 46 counties in central Texas. Be sure to listen at home or online to the “Texas Values Report with Jonathan Saenz” on Saturday at KTXW.net. Listen to our interview with Rep. Sanford here.

 

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