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Special Session #3 Ends!

The issue was "transportation" but anything that includes a constitutional amendment plus where money comes from is bound to cause problems for the Texas Legislature.     The second special session ended in deadlock on May 27th and Governor Perry immediately called a third session, and again listed Transportation as the reason for the "call".

Yesterday at noon, no one in the Capitol would guess how much longer this third session would last but Bam!  The vote happened at 10 pm last night and they're done! It's over! Passed and done... 

TSRA and NRA never quit looking for a way get issues of concern for Texas gun owners addressed during the regular session or later, during the special sessions. 

Again, Governor Perry did not add any gun related issue to the call for any of the three special sessions and our next opportunity will be 2015.

We are now officially in the campaign season!  

 

#2 Special Session~No Gun Bills. Will There Be a #3?

 The first Special Session ended at midnight in chaos and failure.   A conservative-issue bill which should have been a done-deal for Republicans cratered in the last minutes amid screaming chants from the gallery, egged-on by media allowed on the senate floor.   Amid the noise and confusion, all bills on the call failed.. 

Governor Perry immediately called a second Special Session and again priority gun bills were NOT included.   

 Special Session # 2 began on July 1 and ends August 5th   

Will There Be A #3?

 

An issue backed by Texas colleges and universities is HB 5 which would authorize tuition revenue bonds.   As of today, July 16th, HB 5 filed by Rep. Dan Branch (R-Dallas) and chairman of House Committee on Higher Ed has moved from his committee and into Calendars, the next step toward the House floor.  If HB 5 is allowed to proceed (not officially on the call) and if the stars line up, HB 5 might be a vehicle for Campus Carry.   We just do not give up if there's a hint of a chance. 

During the NRA convention this year in Houston, Republican Leadership  referred to CHL on Campus as a “must pass issue”.  

After three Legislative sessions, CHL on Campus has passed in both chambers, passed in House and Senate committees six times, and has been reviewed during an interim study.    Concealed Carry on Campus must be considered “fully vetted” and worthy of being added to the call and to Texas law.

 

2013 Legislative Session Recap - Pro-Gun Bills Pass

2013 Legislative Session Recap - Pro-Gun Bills Pass. Go to www.tsrapac.com for the latest information on the Texas regular session.   Updates will be added if gun legislation is added to the "call" by Governor Perry

   

Legislative Report 2013 Regular Session

 Members you can find a complete list of pro-gun bills on the PAC website at www.tsrapac.com

Highlights from the Regular Session

 HB 1421 by Rep. Charles Perry (R-Lubbock) and Sen. Craig Estes (R-Wichita Falls) allows the sale of firearms confiscated, and not returnable to a rightful owner, to be sold at a public sale to an FFL, with the funds to remain with that law enforcement agency.  Currently these firearms are being destroyed or appropriated for law enforcement use.  The language of the bill simply adds an additional option.

SB 299 by Sen. Craig Estes (R-Wichita Falls) and Rep. Kenneth Sheets (R-Dallas) changes Texas law regarding the unintentional display of a handgun by a licensee.  Current law created an offense for a CHL who “failed to conceal their handgun”.  The new language also creates an offense for displaying a handgun in a public place when the use of force or deadly force is not authorized.   

SB 864 by Sen. Donna Campbell (R-New Braunfels) and Rep. Dan Flynn (R-Van) reduces the over-all classroom time to obtain the initial concealed handgun license to “not less than four hours or more than six”.    The change does not alter the DPS-required material or the test.  Also, the instructor may now take as much time during the range proficiency portion of the program as needed for students comfort and public safety.

Other pro-gun bills 

HB 47 by Rep. Dan Flynn (R-Van) and Sen. Donna Campbell (R-New Braunfels) reduces the number of classroom hours from 10 hours to "not less than 4 or more than 6".   There is no impact on the amount of time an instructor spends with applicants on the shooting range.   

HB 48 by Rep. Dan Flynn (R-Van) and Sen. Dan Patrick (R-Houston) allows CHL renewals to renew online.   

HB 333 by Rep. Ryan Guillen (D-Rio Grande City) and Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa (D-McAllen) requires hotels to give guests advance notice if the property prohibits firearms.   This bill was brought following an incident in Austin.  In 2011 a Texas House member, staying at the Four Seasons Hotel, returned to her room to discover several recently purchased firearms missing.  The guns had been confiscated by the hotel when discovered by the maid.     Smoking, no-smoking; guns, no-guns.   Texans need to know before they arrive.    Look for modifications to hotel websites.

HB 698 by Rep. Drew Springer (R-Muenster) and Sen. Craig Estes (R-Wichita Falls) answers a long-standing problem for CHLs in sparsely populated, rural counties without close service from a state-contracted digital fingerprinting facility.     It applies to counties with a population of 46,000 or less and requires these rural Texans be provided with or allowed to use another source for digital fingerprinting to obtain a concealed handgun license.  We heard testimony from those who drove over 300 miles for nothing more than fingerprinting service.

HB 3142 by Rep. Cecil Bell, Jr. (R-Magnolia) and Sen. Craig Estes (R-Wichita Falls) deletes the reference to firearm “category” from CHL law.  This means a licensee may shoot either a semi-automatic or a revolver and carry his choice without re-qualifying if he qualifies with a revolver and then decides to carry a semi-automatic. 

SB 1907 by Sen. Glenn Hegar (R-Katy) and Rep. Tim Kleinschmitd (R-Lexington) allows a student with a concealed handgun license to have firearms in their personal, locked vehicles on private or public universities and colleges and protects these students from the rule-making authority of their school.  Most Texas colleges enforce a “student code of conduct” which includes the contents of a student’s vehicle when parked on the university’s parking lot.   A student would not be arrested but could certainly be expelled.  This bill will protect those who commute from work to school or who drive long distances.   

Good laws left behind:

HB 508 by Rep. Ryan Guillen (D-Rio Grande City) and Sen. Dan Patrick (R-Houston) contained needed language, which authorized significant fines to cities, counties, and governmental entities who post unenforceable, improper PC 30.06 signs.  This bill passed easily in the House and arrived in the Senate free of amendments.   However, Sen. Patrick allowed Sen. Carona to amend language to allow three groups of people special privileges with regards to where they can carry as a CHL.  The first two groups might be considered  “officers of the court”; however, the third part of the amendment included  all Texas legislators and statewide elected officials.   This last portion was taken from a bill filed in 2011 by Sen. Patrick, which passed in the Senate but not in the House.   Rep. Guillen promised to attempt to strip the amendment in conference committee.  However, additional language was added in the Senate to include U.S. Congressmen. This change required a final vote in the House and the House voted overwhelmingly against the amendment, effectively killing the underlying language.   It was sad to lose HB 508 and its protections for all Texas concealed handgun licensees but many said the amendment was bad public policy.   Thanks very much to Rep. Ryan Guillen whose office brought togehter TSRA, NRA and the Texas Municipal League to hammer out the needed language.   

HB 700 by Rep. George Lavender (R-Texarkana) would allow licensed open carry of a handgun.   This bill was not allowed even a committee vote by Chairman Joe Pickett (D-El Paso).    HB 700 was heard early in the session, there was no opposition, and yet no amount of begging could convince Chairman Pickett to allow the committee members to vote on the bill.  By the way, Rep. Lavender is a member of Pickett’s committee.     The committee was made up of five pro-gun Republicans and two not-so-pro-gun Democrats including the chairman.   The chairman has the control.

HB 972 by Rep. Allen Fletcher (R-Tomball) and SB 182 by Sen. Brian Birdwell (R-Granbury) were two companion bills, TSRA and NRA’s 2013 version of CHL on College and University Campuses.   HB 972 was heard in committee the same day as Open Carry.  It was held for several weeks before Chairman Pickett allowed a vote.  What came out of that committee was very, very different from what was filed by Rep. Fletcher.   We were encouraged by House Leadership to work to repair it on the House floor and that’s what Rep. Fletcher did with correcting amendments offered by friends.  When HB 972 came to the House floor there were six attempts at a point of order called on the bill.  All were over-ruled by the House parliamentarian.    A point of order is often only a procedural error but can be a bill-killer.   HB  972 was voted on by the House floor and passed with unanimous Republican support and with the help and vote of eleven Democratic House members.

HB 972 moved over to the Senate, and passed through a quick committee hearing.  Next stop should have been the floor of the Senate.    Should have been!

The State Democratic Party platform includes a provision opposing Concealed Carry on Campus and the Senate Democratic Caucus did just that. State party officers testified against the measure in committee and the line of anti-Campus witnesses reiterated the same information over and over again.   

Senate Rules

Senate rules require 2/3s of the State Senate to vote to bring any bill to the Senate floor for discussion and debate.   There are 31 State Senators so 21 senators were needed to vote to “hear” HB 972.  There are 19 Republicans, 2 short of the needed number, so the Democratic Senate Caucus, as a group, blocked the vote to consider.    The Lt. Governor did all he could to pry it loose,  right up to the last minute of the last day, but no go.  

Bad Bills In Texas

None of the anti-gun bills passed out of committee, much less made it to the House or Senate floor.   There were quite a few filed.     HB 3772 by Rep. Garnet Coleman (D-Houston) dealt with background checks at gun shows.   

HB 3773 also by Rep. Garnet Coleman would have watered down the provisions of Castle Doctrine and the use of deadly force.

HB 3288 by Rep. Yvonne Davis (D-Dallas) would require drug and alcohol testing before a person could obtain or renew their concealed handgun license.

All bad bills were stopped. 

Other Pro-Gun Measurers

 We monitored all the bills creating some type of additional training for a concealed handgun licensee for school safety purposes.    All the bills contained permissive language and simply created some form of additional education option that a school district might elect should they decide  to incorporate concealed handgun licensees into their school security plan.     Texas is a big state and empowering school districts with choices is the right way to go.      By the way, Harrold ISD is no longer the only school district to allow faculty with a CHL to carry in the classroom.  School districts deciding to go this route have involved parents and staff in the decision-making process. 

Today is the 140th day and the end of the Regular Session.   We expect Governor Perry to immediately call a special session to work on priority bills dealing with the business of the State of Texas not yet completed.   While it’s unusual, we think Governor Perry may add Concealed Carry on Campus to the “call”.   This issued has passed out of six or eight committees over the years; has been the subject of an interim study; has passed in the State Senate and, most recently, in the State House.  It can be said that the issue is fully vetted.   

Additional Note:  Today is June 13th and today Governor Perry announced that gun bills, including Campus Carry would NOT be included on the list for Special Session.  This is the Governor's decision and his alone.  Both the Speaker of the House and Lt. Governor Dewhurst requested the addition of this important personal protection legislation.   

Thank you, members, for your calls to action both during session and most recently to Governor Perry.   All Texans benefit form your help and support at the right time and in the right place.   

 

 

Crawling Along in Legislative Session in Texas

It's hard to write updates when there's little movement but there is movement.    How do you explain to people that our legislative package "ain't dead yet" when the out of state rumor mill prounounced all dead weeks ago?   Got to www.tsrapac.com for updates or the the state's legislative website at this link

Most gun bills moving through the Texas House are assigned to the House Committee on Homeland Security and Public Safety for a hearing.   This session's chairman is Senior State Representative Joe Pickett, D-El Paso.   Chairman Picket is not pro-gun but he's never been anti-gun either.  He's never carried or supported rabid anti-gun bills but he seldom, if ever, "votes with us".   The configuation of the committee includes 5 Republicans and one additional Democrat, also not of the conservative leaning.   The vice chairman is Rep. Allen Fletcher (R-Tomb) filed HB 972, CHL on Campus.   Rep. Dan Flynn (R-Van), a committee member,  filed HB 47 to revise the required number of hours for the theory portion of the CHL class.   Also a HSPS committee member is Rep. Tim Kleinschimdt (R-Lexington).  Rep. Kleinschmidt was the Doc Brown Legislator of the Year award winner in 2011 for the final passage of SB 321 (Employer Parking Lot bill).   This session he filed two important variations on the campus issue.  Rep. George Lavender (R-Texarkana) serves on this committee also and is the author of HB 700 (Licensed Open Carry).  Another member is Rep. Kenneth Sheets (R-Dallas) the author of HB 1304 which would clarify the unintentional display of a firearm by a licensee.   Rep. Tony Dale (R-Cedar Park) and Rep. Ron Simmons (R-Denton) filed pro-gun bills too.   Finally Rep. Philip Cortez (D-San Antonio) a freshman, came into session with a low rating based on answers to the TSRA-NRA campaign questionnaire.

Of the nine member committee, seven are seriously pro-gun.  Ah but it's the chairman who calls the shots.  A committee chairman decides when and even if a bill will be heard in committee, when and if there's a committee vote, when the bill will be reported out of his committee.   New law is hard to pass and should be.

Our bills were heard in committee earlier than ever before.  You might recall that last session Rep. Lavender's open carry bill was heard late in the 2011 session and almost missed being voted on at all.   So with early hearings there was reason to expect the best.  

Some bills are plodding along.  SB 299 by Estes/HB 1304 by Sheets are in the last steps toward passage.  HB 47 by Flynn/ SB 864 by Campbell are also moving slowly toward the finish line.    I wish I could tell you what to expect.  

I can say that nothing is dead yet, except maybe Open Carry and it isn't looking hopeful

Session ends on May 27th!  

In the last few hours of legislative session 2007, the NRA lobbyist and I were in the House Gallery watching the count down on bills.  In addition we had a bill in the Senate, the bill to allow you to have a handgun in your vehicle without a license (NO it's not part of Castle Doctrine).   Anyway, it appeared the clock had run out on our Senate bill and we were very close in the House.

The House bill passed as the Speaker gaveled the end to session.  It was midnight and we went our seperate ways.   I was half way home when Sen. Hinojosa called me on my cell to say "his bill" had passed.   When I asked, "How!", he explained that the Senate voted to roll the clock back two hours.  God I love the Senate.  They regularly vote to suspend or change their rules.

So all things are possible....

 

 

   

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Alice Tripp, Legislative Director

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