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2011 Texas Regular Session Wrap-Up

Friday, June 3, 2011

Great work, Texas NRA Members!

EMPLOYEE/PARKING LOT PROTECTION:

As reported to you last weekend, Senate Bill 321 has finally passed in the Texas Legislature and was sent to Governor Rick Perry for his signature. This NRA-backed legislation was authored by state Senator Glenn Hegar (R-Katy) and state Representative Tim Kleinschmidt (R-Lexington).  This bill prohibits employers from enacting and enforcing bans on employees transporting and storing firearms in their locked, private motor vehicles while parked at work.  If signed into law, this act will take effect on September 1, 2011.

This measure applies to both public and private employers, as well as all lawfully-owned firearms - not just firearms in the possession of Concealed Handgun Licensees.  However, SB 321 does not authorize an employee to possess firearms on any property where such possession is prohibited by state or federal law, and the provisions of the bill do not apply to the following:

·  Vehicles owned or leased by the employer and used by the employee for work purposes;

·  School districts, open enrollment charter schools, and private schools as defined in Section 22.081, Education Code;

·  Property owned or controlled by a person, other than an employer, that is subject to a valid, unexpired oil, gas, or other mineral lease that contains a provision prohibiting the possession of firearms on the property; or

·  Property owned or leased by a chemical manufacturer or oil and gas refiner permitted by TCEQ and on which the primary business conducted is the manufacture, use, storage or transportation of hazardous, combustible, or explosive materials; however, employees at  these facilities who are CHLs may store firearms (including rifles or shotguns) in their private motor vehicles in parking areas located outside of secured and restricted areas which contain the physical plant, are not open to the public and which are constantly monitored by security personnel.

CAMPUS CARRY:

As we mentioned in previous alerts throughout the 2011 session, Senate Bill 354 by state Senator Jeff Wentworth (R-San Antonio), failed to garner the 21 (2/3 on the Senate) necessary votes to suspend the regular order of business and be taken up on the Senate floor.  It was still left pending on the Senate Intent Calendar as the legislature adjourned sine die on Memorial Day.  House Bill 750 by state Representative Joe Driver (R-Garland), was never scheduled for a House floor vote by the House Calendars Committee, and it died there along with every other variation of campus carry.  Among those not passed were House Bill 1167 by state Representative Van Taylor (R-Plano), which would have allowed Concealed Carry Licensees (CHLs) to carry on the campuses of public junior colleges and technical schools, House Bill 1356 by state Representative Lance Gooden (R-Terrell) allowing faculty, staff and employee CHLs at public colleges and universities to carry on-campus, and House Bill 2178, also by Representative Driver, de-criminalizing campus carry but still allowing schools to adopt administrative rules governing the actions of CHLs on-campus.

Late in the session, Senator Wentworth won passage of a Senate floor amendment attaching most of the language from SB 354 onto Senate Bill 1581, a bill dealing with fiscal, business and administrative matters affecting institutions of higher education in the state.  When SB 1581 was considered on the House floor, a point of order was raised against the bill for violating the “one-subject” rule with the inclusion of the campus carry language.  The point of order was sustained by the chair and the measure was sent back to the Senate to have the so-called “offending language” removed.  Various other attempts to amend campus carry language onto bills in the House were rejected without a vote because of germaneness issues.

The following NRA-supported measures have also passed in the Texas House and Senate and await final action by Governor Perry:

House Bill 25 by state Representative Ryan Guillen (D-Rio Grande City) and state Senator Dan Patrick (R-Houston) will extend the right to carry a handgun to your boat or personal watercraft without needing a Concealed Handgun License– a right which law-abiding Texans currently enjoy in their private motor vehicles.  For many, these vessels – especially on weekends in some parts of the state – are, for all practical purposes, an extension of one’s home.  It will remain an offense under HB 25 if the handgun is not hidden from plain view, the person in possession is engaged in criminal activity or a member of a criminal street gang, or the person is not eligible to possess the firearm under state or federal law.

House Bill 716 by state Representative Sid Miller (R-Stephenville) and state Senator Troy Fraser (R-Horseshoe Bay) will allow properly-permitted landowners or helicopter owners to contract with third parties to ride on these aircraft and take depredating feral hogs and coyotes.  This bill will help control the population of these animals and reduce cost to landowners.  The Texas Parks & Wildlife Commission will retain authority to ensure that these operations are run in a safe and effective manner. 

House Bill 2560 by state Representative Ralph Sheffield (R-Temple) and state Senator Craig Estes (R-Wichita Falls) will prevent the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services from adopting or enforcing rules restricting a foster parent’s ability to transport a foster child in a private motor vehicle if a handgun is present, as long as the foster parent is a Concealed Handgun Licensee and the handgun is “in the possession and control” of the foster parent.  This is intended to mean that the firearm could be stored in the glove box, console or trunk of the vehicle.  State agencies should not create disincentives to foster parenting by forcing those individuals to forego their Second Amendment rights!

Senate Bill 766 by state Senator Craig Estes and state Representative Jason Isaac (R-Dripping Springs) limits the ability of local governments to sue owners or operators of sports shooting ranges, and requires an expert report on whether ranges meet generally-applicable industry standards before a civil action suit can be brought against them.

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Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.