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House To Vote On New Abortion Rules & Midday Roundup

By KERA News & Wire Services

Dallas, TX – The Texas House is expected to vote Wednesday on a bill that would require doctors to perform a sonogram before providing an abortion. The bill says a woman must be shown the sonogram and hear the fetal heartbeat while the doctor explains whether the fetus has arms or legs.

The woman may look away but must sign an affidavit that she heard the heartbeat and description. A less stringent bill passed the Senate last month.

Gov. Rick Perry made the new abortion rules an emergency matter. Proponents say the bill guarantees that doctors provide patients with necessary information. Opponents say it interferes with the doctor-patient relationship and tries to shame women who seek an abortion.

If passed, the bill would move into conference committee.

Texas Independence Day, documents signed in 1836

A handwritten document proclaiming Texas was freeing itself from rule by Mexico is 175 years old.

Wednesday is Texas Independence Day. It was March 2, 1836, when historians believe the original and five copies of the declaration were made and signed.

Only the original remains. The pages are on a now rare public display into April at the Texas Archives and Library in Austin.

Texas became a U.S. state in 1845.

House committee to consider immigration bills

A House panel is debating several hot-button bills that could give police more power to enforce immigration laws.

The bills are aimed in part at cracking down on so-called sanctuary cities, which Gov. Rick Perry has put on the fast track in the Texas Legislature. One version of the Republican-backed legislation would make it clear that police agencies must not be barred from asking about immigration status after arresting people.

Others are tougher, requiring that police officers inquire about immigration status.

Supporters say the legislation is needed to cut down on crime. Opponents say it will bog down police officers in added paperwork and negatively impact their ability to enforce state laws and respond to life-or-death emergencies.

Hunt Files For Re-Election

Incumbent Dallas City Council woman Angela Hunt has filed for re-election. The District 14 veteran council person turned in her city hall paperwork Tuesday. She said important, difficult issues lie ahead, and she offers the experience necessary to lead.

Hunt can serve one more term before limits prevent another run.

She faces a crowd of challengers, including lawyer James Nowlin, businessman Brian Oley, Insurance agent Vernon Franko, and Chad Lassiter, in sales and consulting.

Review says possible Texas prison beds shortage

A review finds Texas could face a shortage of as many as 12,000 inmate beds within two years if budget problems force prison system cuts and closures.

The report, presented Tuesday to the Senate Criminal Justice Committee, is led by consultant Tony Fabelo. His report comes from the Justice Center, a research affiliate of the Council of State Governments.

Texas lawmakers face a projected budget shortfall of at least $15 billion in the next two-year spending period.

The Austin American-Statesman reports the review found that possible cuts of up to $600 million would hobble rehabilitation, probation and treatment, which help offenders stay out of trouble.

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst says he's alarmed by the projections.

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice is in charge of the system's nearly 156,000 inmates.