SENATE GIVES PRELIMINARY APPROVAL TO JUDICIAL BYPASS CHANGES
(AUSTIN) — Judges would be given more time to decide whether to exempt a minor seeking an abortion from parental notification statutes under a bill tentatively approved by the Senate on Monday. Minors are required under Texas law to get parental consent to have an abortion, but a judge can make exceptions in cases where informing the parents might lead to physical, sexual or emotional abuse of the minor. HB 3994, by Lubbock Senator Charles Perry, would extend the timeframe a judge has to make that decision from two to five business days. Perry said that judges need more time to decide such an important issue. "Two days is a pretty short window to make a life changing decision," he said.
The bill would also clarify for judges what the standards are for granting a judicial bypass, according to the author. Perry said he has heard from judges that the current statutes aren't clear enough. It would change the standard under which a judge orders a bypass from the current preponderance of evidence to the tighter standard of clear and convincing evidence that a minor could face abuse. A controversial provision in the original House bill that would have required all women seeking an abortion to present ID to prove they are not minors was removed. The bill will face one more vote before it finally passes the Senate.
Last Friday, state leadership announced a deal on tax cuts between the two chambers, and two bills passed late Sunday night take one more step towards a final resolution on the issue. The Senate passed the House plan to cut franchise taxes, and the House passed the property tax cut bill favored by the Senate. Under the two bills, franchise taxes would be permanently reduced by 25 percent and the homestead exemption for local property taxes would be increased from $15,000 to $25,000. The Senate declined to concur in House amendments to the property tax bill, so members will work with the House in a conference committee to resolve any differences before taking a final vote.
The Senate will reconvene Tuesday, May 26 at 9:30 a.m.