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Sonogram Requirement For Abortion Moves Forward & Nightly Roundup

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By KERA News & Wire Services

Dallas, TX – Texas senators took another step toward passing a requirement that doctors conduct a sonogram before performing an abortion.

The most controversial aspect of the bill approved Monday is a 24-hour waiting period between the procedures, unless the woman lives more than 100 miles away.

Republican State Sen. Dan Patrick said the bill will give women information about the procedure they want performed. Opponents say it is designed to intimidate and traumatize women seeking an abortion.

The bill also requires doctors to give women the option of seeing the sonogram and hearing the fetal heartbeat. The doctor is required to describe what he sees on the sonogram, to include any arms or legs.

The legislation has been bouncing between the House and Senate, as lawmakers work out a final version.

Committee OKs plan to close gap in 2011 budget

A Senate committee has approved the use of $3.25 billion from the Rainy Day Fund to balance this year's state budget.

The money, coupled with agency savings, would allow the state to close a deficit of about $4 billion in the current budget year.

The vote by the Senate Finance Committee Monday clears the way for the full Senate to consider the legislation. The House has already approved similar legislation.

The measure, known as the supplemental budget, balances the books to close out the 2010-2011 budget period. That includes making a $600 million payment to public schools that was necessary because of lower property tax receipts. The plan also would give about $40 million to the Texas Forest Service to help cover the costs of fighting recent wildfires.

Secret rate hearings given OK

Oil and gas regulators would be given the authority to discuss gas rate increases in secret under a proposal that has won approval in the Texas House.

The measure was approved unanimously Monday as an amendment to legislation that makes reforms to the Texas Railroad Commission. The bill, up for debate Monday night, would change the name of the agency to the Texas Oil and Gas Commission, which has nothing to do with railroads. It oversees the state's oil and gas industry, including more than 350,000 miles of pipeline.

Rep. Phil King, R-Weatherford, got support for the measure allowing secret deliberations during gas rate hearings and other contested cases that go before the commission. He said it was needed to allow commissioners to freely discuss gas rates other disputed matters.