Legislature Gives Final Approval to Measure Protecting Hunting on Private Lands
One of the priorities of NRA-ILA this session has been passage of the "No Net Loss of Public Hunting Lands" legislation in the states. However, that type of proposal would have limited impact in a state like Texas, where roughly 95% of land is privately owned. So Representative Anna Mowery (R-Fort Worth) and Senator Tommy Williams (R-The Woodlands) teamed with NRA-ILA, Texas State Rifle Association, Texas Farm Bureau, Texas Wildlife Association, and the Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association to draft legislation addressing the sportsmen`s access issue in a manner that would truly have a positive impact in the Lone Star State.
The result of these efforts was Senate Bill 734, which the Legislature gave final approval to this week and sent to Governor Rick Perry (R). When a municipality annexes nearby land, SB 734 would allow hunting with certain firearms to continue on minimum-sized property tracts (10 acres or more for shotgun; 50 acres or more for rifle and pistol) even if the municipality has an ordinance banning the discharge of firearms. The bill also added "wildlife management" to the list of activities, which would be grandfathered under Texas` "Right To Farm" Act when annexation occurs.
As Texas cities grow, opportunities for hunting or sport shooting diminish. Most municipalities have ordinances banning the discharge of firearms, with no exception for lawful hunting or safe recreational shooting. Existing state laws offer little protection to property owners who are annexed by a city, but who wish to continue hunting on their own land or leasing it out to sportsmen before development occurs around them. SB 734 changes all that, and can serve as a model for other states that wish to address urban sprawl and its negative impact on hunting and sport shooting.
Senate Committee Approves Changes to Concealed Handgun License Laws Benefiting Military Personnel
This week, the Senate Veterans Affairs & Military Installations Committee reported out HB 322 by Representative Suzanna Hupp (R-Lampasas) & Senator Craig Estes (R-Wichita Falls) and HB 685 by Representative Patrick Rose (D-Dripping Springs) & Senator Leticia Van de Putte (D-San Antonio). HB 322 lowers the minimum age requirement for a Concealed Handgun License (CHL) to 18 and reduces CHL application fees by 50 percent for active military personnel. The bill was amended in committee to delete its application to veterans, because of the significant fiscal impact it would have had on the state`s coffers in a tight budget year. HB 685 deletes the range instruction portion of the CHL course for military personnel with recent handgun training. Both bills now move to the Senate floor for consideration. Please contact your State Senators and urge them to support HB 322 & HB 685. Visit www.senate.state.tx.us for Senators` contact information.
Contact Key Senate Committee Members on NRA-Backed "Car Carry" Bill
HB 823 by Representative Terry Keel (R-Austin) & Senator Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa (D-McAllen) has passed the Texas House and been referred to the Senate Criminal Justice Committee. HB 823 would take significant steps toward legalizing the carrying of a handgun in your car without a Concealed Handgun License (CHL). Currently, it is a "defense to prosecution" to carry if you are "traveling." "Traveling" is not defined anywhere in law. And a "defense to prosecution" means that you can still be arrested and charged with unlawful carry, and you`d have to hire an attorney to submit evidence to convince a judge and jury that you were "traveling." HB 823 states law-abiding citizens would be presumed to be "traveling" if you were in your car, not otherwise engaged in criminal activity, and not otherwise prohibited from possessing the handgun under state or federal law. HB 823 has not yet been set for a hearing in the Senate Criminal Justice Committee, and similar proposals have died in this committee in previous sessions. It is critical that you contact the committee members below and urge them to support HB 823:
Senator John Whitmire, Chairman (D-Houston)
Senator Kel Seliger, Vice-Chairman (R-Amarillo)
Senator John Carona (R-Dallas)
Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston)
Senator Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa (D-McAllen)
Senator Steve Ogden (R-Bryan)
Senator Tommy Williams (R-The Woodlands)