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Texas - Can House Committee Prevent A Raid On CHL Program?

Friday, February 28, 2003

We can all expect to have to tighten our belts during tough economic times.  Governor Rick Perry (R) directed each state agency in Texas to come up with a proposal to reduce their budgets by 7%.  The Department of Public Safety -- which is charged with administering Texas` Right To Carry law -- was included among those agencies. 
 
Recently, the head of DPS, Colonel Tom Davis, appeared before a subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee and indicated that the Department planned to take more than $800,000 out of the operating budget for the Concealed Handgun License Program and apply it directly to the cost savings the agency has been directed to achieve.  This program appears to be way over-represented in the cost savings plan the agency is proposing. 
 
Several key lawmakers were made aware during the 2001 legislative session that DPS had amassed a six-figure surplus in the Concealed Handgun License Program (a number we`re told was amazingly close to the amount of money they plan to take out of the program in their proposed cost-savings plan!)  These lawmakers attempted, during last session and throughout the interim, to get DPS to reduce CHL fees where possible.  The Governor even issued an Executive Order to that effect last fall.  DPS did respond to those requests -- with plenty of excuses as to why they couldn`t reduce fees and absolutely no action to reduce the fees themselves.
 
And now DPS wants to reduce their budget disproportionately, it seems, on the backs of hard-working Texans who apply for a CHL and already pay some of the highest fees in the nation!
 
Representatives Dan Ellis (D-Livingston), Suzanna Hupp (R-Lampasas) and Carl Isett (R-Lubbock) are leading the fight to stop this raid on the Concealed Handgun License Program.  In fact, Rep. Isett`s HB 498 -- a bill which would lower the cost of renewal CHLs for senior citizens to $35 -- would almost certainly be negatively impacted by the proposed cuts from the program.  These folks need your help!
 
The full Appropriations Committee will meet next week to consider the Department`s proposed cuts.  If your State Representative is listed below as a member of the House Appropriations Committee, please contact him or her and share your opposition to DPS` proposed cuts from the Concealed Handgun License Program:
 
Rep. Leo Berman (R-Tyler)
(512) 463-0584
Rep. Dan Branch (R-Dallas)
(512) 463-0367
Rep. Fred Brown (R-Bryan)
(512) 463-0698
Rep. Betty Brown (R-Terrell)
(512) 463-0458
Rep. Myra Crownover (R-Lake Dallas)
(512) 463-0582
Rep. John Davis (R-Houston)
(512) 463-0734
Rep. Joe Deshotel (D-Port Arthur)
(512) 463-0662
Rep. Craig Eiland (D-Galveston)
(512) 463-0502
Rep. Dan Ellis (D-Livingston)
(512) 463-0570
Rep. Peggy Hamric (R-Houston)
(512) 463-0496
Rep. Ruben Hope (R-Conroe)
(512) 463-0726
Rep. Carl Isett (R-Lubbock)
(512) 463-0676
Rep. Elizabeth Ames Jones (R-San Antonio)
(512) 463-0686
Rep. Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham)
(512) 463-0600
Rep. Joe Pickett (D-El Paso)
(512) 463-0596
Rep. Jim Pitts (R-Waxahachie)
(512) 463-0516
Rep. Richard Raymond (D-Laredo)
(512) 463-0558
Rep. Jack Stick (R-Austin)
(512) 463-0821
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