The Back MicThe Back Mic: ‘Save Women’s Sports Act’ Finds New Path, Pro-Life Democrat Supports Heartbeat Act Exception, Abbott Appoints Six to Energy Council

This week — the “Save Women’s Sports Act” finds a path to a GOP-controlled committee, a pro-life Democrat signs onto “rape and incest" exception, and Abbott makes six appointments to an energy oversight body.
October 1, 2021
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Transgender Sports Bill Given New Route in Texas House

The “Save Women’s Sports Act” has twice failed this year in the Texas House — once on the House floor after revival in the Public Education Committee and a second time in that committee during the second special session.

After its most recent demise, this legislation requiring youth athletes to compete within their biological sex was again placed on the special session call by Governor Greg Abbott and made a priority item in the Senate by Lt. Governor Dan Patrick.

But its fate remained up in the air with Rep. Harold Dutton (D-Houston) still chairing the Public Education Committee — who has maintained antagonism toward the legislation but has once let it through his committee.

But during the second special session, Dutton killed it in his committee to spite Lt. Governor Dan Patrick for comments he made about minority community vaccination rates.

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Going into this third session, that same bill has been filed and was again referred to the Public Education Committee. But House author Rep. Valoree Swanson (R-Spring) filed another version that made its way to the Select Committee on Constitutional Rights & Remedies, created by Speaker Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont) over the summer to advance, most notably, the election reform bill.

The committee is chaired by Lufkin Republican Rep. Trent Ashby. 

“I specifically wrote the language of HB 25 (saving girls’ sports) to ensure it will be heard in a committee in which a majority of the members have previously co-authored and supported the bill,” Swanson told The Texan. “I am excited to carry this — or SB 3/HB 10 — through the process and pass it into law!”

Phelan said recently that the votes are there on the floor to pass the legislation in either form.

Democratic Senator & Heartbeat Act Co-Author Supports “Rape and Incest” Exception

Last week, Rep. Lyle Larson filed a “rape and incest” exception to the Texas Heartbeat Act. This week, Larson gained a significant ally in Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr. (D-Brownsville).

Lucio was the only Democrat in the Senate to co-author and eventually vote for the Heartbeat Act. This week he signed onto a Senate companion version of Larson’s legislation.

In a statement to The Texan, Lucio said, “As a person of faith, I will always choose life, and I personally stand with the Catholic Church in the belief that an unborn child is a human life, no matter the circumstances of its conception. Fortunately, statistics show that abortions for reasons of rape or incest are exceedingly rare among the millions of abortions performed since Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973.”

“However, in those rare cases, we need to do everything we can to ensure we are being compassionate with women who became pregnant under such horrific circumstances. Part of that compassion is listening to survivors, many of whom shared their stories with the Legislature and with my office specifically. Nobody who has not experienced this situation can imagine the trauma these women have gone through, and their stories deserve more careful consideration by the Legislature. I signed on to this bipartisan legislation in hopes that we will have another opportunity to discuss how best we can extend Christ’s love to women in crisis.”

Governor Greg Abbott said in a Sunday Fox News interview declined to take a firm position about the proposal, but added, “You’re making a hypothetical because that bill is not going to reach my desk.”

Even if Abbott’s assessment proves true — and abortion has not been added to the third special session so the legislature cannot even consider it right now — Lucio’s support is a notable get for those wishing to add in the exception.

Governor Appoints 6 to Energy Reliability Council

Among the legislature’s power grid reforms was the minting of the Energy Reliability Council directed to “ensure that the energy and electric industries in this state meet high priority human needs and address critical infrastructure concerns, and enhance coordination and communication in the energy and electric industries in this state.”

The six appointees are:

  • Brad Jones, interim CEO of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas
  • Nate Murphy, senior counsel for Valero
  • George Presses, vice president of fuel & energy for HEB
  • Edward Stones, global business director for energy & climate change for Dow, Inc
  • Jon Taylor, corporate vice president of fab engineering and public affairs at Samsung Austin Semiconductor
  • Melissa Trevino, assistant vice president for power at Occidental Energy Ventures

The rest of the council, per statute, is made up of the Railroad Commission and Public Utility Commission chairs; one official each from the Office of Public Utility Counsel, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, and Texas Transportation Commission; and a number of other industry sector representatives.

The body will direct supervision of the state’s energy sector with the goal of shoring up any deficiencies that led to the February blackouts.

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to include comment from Sen. Lucio.

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Brad Johnson

Brad Johnson is an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad quoting Monty Python productions and trying to calculate the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.