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February 17, 2011 (512) 463-0300

COMMITTEE APPROVES MESSAGE TO CONGRESS: BALANCE FEDERAL BUDGET

Members of the Senate Finance Committee
Members of the Senate State Affairs Committee including (L-to-R) Vice-Chair Bob Deuell of Greenville, Chair Robert Duncan of Lubbock and Houston Senator Rodney Ellis heard arguments in favor of a message to Congress to rein in federal spending.

(AUSTIN) — The Senate State Affairs Committee approved a measure Thursday that would ask Congress to convene a constitutional convention for the purpose of passing an amendment that would require a federal balanced budget amendment. There are two ways to convene a federal constitutional convention: either by action of Congress or by memorandum from two-thirds of the states. The measure by Bryan Senator Steve Ogden and Plano Senator Florence Shapiro follow this second means. Shapiro said Texas needs to tell Washington to reign in deficit spending. "Our current national debt is $14 trillion and has increased by 33 percent since 2009," she said. "This debt is unprecedented and we all know, cannot be sustained".

Some committee members raised concerns that convening a constitutional convention could open up the founding document to any manner of amendments. The measure passed would rescind Texas petition for a convention should the body consider amendments other than a balanced budget amendment. Committee Chair Senator Robert Duncan of Lubbock raised a different concern. If an amendment is ratified requiring a balanced federal budget, he is worried how Congress would meet that requirement. " If they have a balanced budget amendment, it would be on the back of the taxpayers of the state level," he said. "They would push it down or raise taxes."

The bill will now head to the floor for consideration by the full Senate.

Also Thursday, the Senate gave final approval to a bill that would mandate that a doctor perform a sonogram before terminating a pregnancy, and discuss the results with the patient. Bill author Senator Dan Patrick of Houston said it is vital that a woman be given all the information she needs before making this critical decision. The bill requires that the doctor make available both the sonogram image and the sound of the fetal heartbeat, but the woman can decline to see or hear them. It also makes exceptions for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest, or situations where there is an irreversible fetal abnormality. This bill heads to the House for further consideration.

The Senate will reconvene Tuesday, February 22 at 11 a.m.


Session video and all other webcast recordings can be accessed from the Senate website's Audio/Video Archive.

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