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AUSTIN -- The television sets wheeling down the hall are proof state government has gone from sleepy to sexy.

In fact, the Texas House opened 11 additional hearing rooms so the overflowing crowd could watch the process as thousands gathered for a House debate on abortion restrictions.

The state representatives were civil, though Democrats, like Sylvester Turner from Houston, were clearly disappointed to be dealing with the abortion issue again. He sniped at the chairman after being told a request he made was not how the committee normally does business.

But we re not operating under normal circumstances here, Mr. Chairman, Turner responded.

And that s how it went, with emotion high, but a large contingent of state troopers always nearby.

I think there was a lot of complacency, said Joe Pojman, a pro-life leader.

Pojman, of Texas Alliance for Life, worked hard to get a better turnout from his base, and appreciated tonight s tone.

It s really good to see citizen input from all segments of Texas, as far as I can tell, and all sides represented, he said.

On the other side, Aliza Feinberg drove her from Arlington to speak up for abortion rights.

It s been very, very cordial," she said. "Everyone has been very respectful. If we have conversations with people we oppose, it s been very nice, calm conversations.

The number s been climbing all night, but at least 2,300 people had signed up to testify. Only a handful will actually get to talk Tuesday night before the midnight deadline.

Stay with News 8 Wednesday to see if the debate ends as just as smoothly as it started.

E-mail dschechter@wfaa.com

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