News Roundup: Texas House Passes Bill Barring Local Governments From Contracting With Organizations That Provide Abortions

Our daily look at Texas headlines.

By Becky FogelMay 20, 2019 1:08 pm

The Standard’s news roundup gives you a quick hit of interesting, sometimes irreverent, and breaking news stories from all over the state.

A bill barring local governments from contracting with abortion providers or their affiliates could soon be headed to Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk. The Texas House gave final approval to Senate Bill 22 after hours of debate late Friday night.

Democratic state Rep. Eddie Rodriguez of Austin says the bill was written to target a Planned Parenthood clinic in his district that has an annual $1 lease agreement with the city. Rodriguez asked the bill’s House sponsor, Republican Rep. Candy Noble, if that’s accurate.

“This bill, my understanding is that when you first filed this bill, it was targeting a particular Planned Parenthood in Austin, is that correct?

But Noble said she had “never targeted a single entity in this bill.”

Rodriguez pointed out that this clinic does not provide abortions. He also highlighted programs in other Texas cities, such as Dallas and El Paso, that could be affected by this bill.

“In El Paso, Texas for example, education events by Planned Parenthood staff to raise awareness of the importance of STD testing and treatment, to destigmatize, [for] at-risk youth at community colleges – they will not be able to do that anymore with your bill. Are you aware of that?” Rodriguez said.

The bill passed the House with a vote of 81-65.

A transgender woman from Dallas attacked in April in an incident captured on video was found dead over the weekend.

Vincent Weddington with the Dallas Police Department confirmed the death of 23-year-old Muhlyasia Booker.

“The Dallas Police Department responded to a shooting call at 7200 Valley Glen Drive. Upon arrival, officers found the complainant lying face down in the street, deceased from homicidal violence. The victim was positively identified as Muhlaysia Booker,” Weddington said.

A cellphone video circulated online last month showing several men punching and kicking Booker in broad daylight. Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings wrote on Twitter, “I am deeply saddened to learn of the murder of Muhlaysia Booker.”

Democratic presidential candidate and former Congressman from El Paso, Beto O’Rourke, also addressed Booker’s death on Twitter. He wrote that she deserved better, and that “Trans women of color across America deserve better. Justice must be served.”

Austin-based billionaire, Robert F. Smith, will pay off the student loans of the 2019 graduates of Morehouse College. Smith is the founder and CEO of Vista Equity Partners, a technology investment firm, and the richest African American in the United States. Smith made the announcement during his commencement speech Sunday at the historically black, all-male college in Atlanta.

“My family is making a grant to eliminate their student loans,” Smith told the graduates.

Throughout his speech, Smith urged the graduates to become the future leaders of the country in both the public and private sectors.

“We need you to become the C-suite executives who change corporate culture, building sustainable business models and make diversity and inclusion a core and unshakeable value,” Smith said.

The exact cost of covering the student loans is still being calculated, but it is estimated to be around $40 million.