First off, a twofer from the Houston Chronicle. First, the announcement that State Senator Wendy Davis, the presumptive Democratic nominee for Governor, supports both the approval of medical marijuana and its decriminalization for general use. This position would be seen as remarkable for a Texas Democrat who has a history of somewhat overly cautious behavior on these contentious issues. However, a couple of weeks ago, Governor Rick Perry announced his support for limited decriminalization, thereby making the issue much less toxic in the general political landscape. It is worth noting, however, that Attorney General Greg Abbott –the likely Republican nominee for Governor– has not reflected the Governor’s opinion, and those Republicans vying to be the next Lieutenant Governor are actively opposing it.
Davis also said she lacked any “philosophical” objections to legalization, but she did say wanted to “see how this experiment plays out in other states is probably advisable before I could tell you for sure.” The comments were made in an on-the-record interview with the Editorial Board of The Dallas Morning News. It is a good example that, no matter what positions Davis may take that are incongruous with the base, she still has a few tricks up her sleeve.
The second revelation, also from the Houston Chronicle, discusses Davis’ recent plan for an overhaul of Pre-K education. The plan, cost estimated by her campaign at approximately $1B, would not only aim to make Pre-K compulsory for all Texas pupils, but would also restore millions in grants cut by previous legislatures and create “sliding scales” for those families making up to 185% of the Federal Poverty level, latest estimated at about $44k/year.
Finally, Davis confused many by her seemingly confusing answer to a question on abortion. The Dallas Morning News reports that she believes the State should ban abortions after 20 weeks. As many will probably recall, the 20-week ban was one of four cornerstones on the omnibus anti-abortion bill passed by the Legislature this last session and famously filibustered by Davis.
Acknowledging this, Davis noted her strong opposition to the bill came from excessive regulations placed on abortion clinics, such as requiring them to adhere to the standards of ambulatory surgical centers. Davis even went as far as to say she would have voted for a standalone bill simply prohibiting abortions after 20 weeks.
As sagacious followers of my writings will probably know, I more or less agree with that point of view. In my opinion, it is very hard to look at how developed and viable a fetus is at 20 weeks (or, heck, 23) and say elective abortions should still be allowed. Alas, they are exceedingly rare, but the GOP tends to search for solutions to problems that do not exist (e.g., Voter ID). However, despite my personal issues, the Supreme Court has explicitly ruled that 24 weeks, not 20, is the limit on abortions.
Davis, in fact, mentioned the Supreme Court, though she did so in a manner that implored them to revisit the question. “The Supreme Court sets that viability and it probably will be revisited. It’s one that deserves that kind of reflection to determine whether that kind of constitutional protection should exist at a time period less than what it is right now,” Davis said. I do not think I could have said it any better myself, though it is worth noting that the Supreme Court likely will not revisit this question. Last month, the Court declined to hear final appeals on Arizona’s such ban, which had been thrown out as unconstitutional by the Federal Appeals Court.
All in all, it’s been a tumultuous few days for Davis, who has clarified herself on quite a few different issues.