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2017 Session of the Texas Legislature

The 85th Regular Session

Texas Legislature 2017

 

The Signing of SB 16 at the Range at Austin: Rep. Burns, Sen. Nichols, Gov. Abbott, Rep. Phil King, Rep. Kacal.

2017 Regular Session

**SB16 by Senator Robert Nichols/Representative Phil King

In 1995 the Texas Legislature passed the concealed handgun license.  At that time the fee to the state for the CHL was put into statute at $140 for the initial license and $70 to renew.  The only discounts were allotted to seniors over 60 who were given a 50% discount and to indigents for the same 50% discount.

Over the years the Legislature created discounts for various groups such as judges, district attorneys, military, law enforcement and others but nothing for the average hardworking Texan.  In addition, the process of issuing the license has been streamline through technology.

Before passage of SB 16, the Texas LTC was the third most expensive license to carry in the country.  Now it is one of the least expensive.   The most any Texan will pay the state for the license is $40, which is essentially the “cost” to the state to produce the license.  Those who would have paid $140 will pay $40 and their renewal will also be $40.  It will be $40 for seniors for their first license instead of $70 but the renewal fee of $35 will stay the same.  A licensee might pay less than $40 but not more.

Texans are paying for 5 years of personal protection, $8 a year, $40.  Our license substitutes for a NICS check and provides reciprocity in 34 states.   While TSRA strongly supports unlicensed carry of a handgun, the Texas license has become comfortable and acceptable even to those who worked for decades to oppose.

Special thank you’s to Senator Robert Nichols the author of SB 16 , to Representative Phil King for HB300, Representative Dustin Burrows for HB339 and to Representative Kyle Kacal for HB1024; all filed to create support for SB 16.    The issue was Lt. Governor Dan Patrick’s #1 priority for Texas gun owners.   September 1st effective date.

Governor signed (5/26/2017)

**Caliber Requirement for LTC Qualification

SB263 by Senator Perry/Representative Drew Springer    Since 1995 there has been a minimum caliber requirement in statute for the range proficiency portion of the Texas License to Carry class.  Range Proficiency requires the applicant shoot a 50-round course of fire.  SB263

Currently those seeking a license must test with a .32 caliber or higher handgun although there is no caliber requirement regarding the firearm carried by the licensee on a day to day basis.

This minimum caliber requirement negatively impacts those with hand injuries and the elderly who wish to obtain a license.

SB 263 by Senator Perry removes the caliber requirement for the range proficiency exam to obtain a Texas License to Carry.  The bill takes effect September 1st.

Governor signed (6/9/2017)

**Volunteer First Responder

HB435 by Represenative Ken King/Senator Perry.  Relating to handgun laws as they apply to licensees who are volunteer first responders.

Bill analysis  

Governor signed (June 15, 2017)

**TSRA Suppressor Bill plus an Amendment

On Friday, May 19th, at 8:55 p.m. the Texas House passed HB 1819, authored by Rep. Drew Springer (R-Muenster) with Senate sponsor, Sen. Charles Perry (R-Lubbock) plus an amendment by Sen. Craig Estes (R-Wichita Falls).

HB1819 sets up Texas law in preparation for the Hearing Protection Act (HR 367) to pass in Congress.  The Hearing Protection Act would remove suppressors, also known as silencers, from the provisions of the National Firearms Act (NFA) .  This means the purchaser of a suppressor would no longer be required to pay the suppressor dealer a deposit, fill out the form 4, transmit digital fingerprints, send BATFE $200, followed by waiting  as long as a year for their application to be processed, the “tax stamp” issued and the purchase finalized.  Again, we’re only talking about suppressors.  A device which simply muffles sound.

The US Congress, under our current administration, is expected to act and when the change occurs Texas law will be ready to accommodate the change.   This means law-abiding Texans wanting a suppressor for a firearm will show their LTC or submit to NICS as though they were purchasing a firearm.

But wait, there’s more!

It was brought to our attention by State Rep. Poncho Nevarez (D-Eagle Pass) and by TSRA members that the Mossberg 590 Shockwave could not be purchased in two states: Texas and Ohio.   There is a Mossberg manufacturing facility in Eagle Pass.

You see BATFE does not require this 14” barrel,  pistol grip “firearm” to be registered as an NFA device.  The Shockwave is not a shoulder-mount shotgun.

The Mossberg amendment was added in the Senate by Senator Craig Estes.  Thanks of course to Senator Charles Perry the Senate sponsor for HB 1819.

HB1819 has now been signed by Governor Abbott and takes effect September 1st.  We may have a wait to purchase a suppressor but we will purchase the Mossberg 590 Shockwave and other similar firearms after Sept. 1s.

HB1819 Bill History with Co-Author’s List

Governor Signed (5/26/2017)

**Online LTC Course Option

HB3784 by Representative Justin Holland (R-Rockwall and Senator Van Taylor (R-Plano)

Creates an optional online course for the Texas LTC.  The shooting portion must be done with a DPS certified instructor.  Governor signed (6/15/2017)

**Church Volunteer Security

The language of HB421 by Representative Matt Rinaldi (R-Irving)  Relating to the exemption from the application of the Private Security Act of certain persons who provide security services on a volunteer basis at a place of religious worship.

The original bill didn’t get far enough in the process to pass on its own but was successfully amended  to SB2065 by Senator Kelly Hancock (R-N. Richland Hills) Find the amendment on page 51 of the bill  Click on the link above for SB2065 and go to page 51 on the host bill to find the amended language.  Governor signed (6/15/2017)

**Primary and Secondary Teacher Parking Lot-See updated note!

**The language of HB1692 by Representative Cole Hefner (R-Mount Pleasant) Relating to the transportation and storage of a handgun or other firearm and ammunition by a license holder in a motor vehicle in a parking area of a primary or secondary school.

This legislation protects the jobs of hard-working primary and secondary teachers with a LTC.  This group was not previously covered by the employer parking lot bill from years ago.

Neither the House Bill nor the Senate, carried by Senator Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola), completed the process but in the last days of session Representative Hefner amended his language to SB1566 by Senator Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham) (Read the amendment on page 11).  Click on the link to SB1566 above and go to page 11 of the bill to find the amendment.  Effective date Sept. 1st   Governor signed  (6/15/2017)

Note: *Some Texas School Boards are ignoring the Legislative intent of the Hefner/Hughes amendment and prohibiting employees who are licensees.  The language of the amendment is being reviewed.  2/3/2018

**Legalize the Bowie Knife

HB1935 by Representative John Frullo/Senator John Whitmire eliminates daggers, dirks, stilettos, poniards, swords, spears, and Bowie knives from Texas law, allowing them to be carried in Texas. Effective date Sept. 1st.  Governor signed (6/15/2017) 

**LTC Course Modification for Military

SB138 by Senator Van Taylor/Representative Morgan Meyer to exempt certain military veterans and active duty service members with military range qualifications from the state required range portion of the LTC course.  SB138 passed as an amendment to HB3784

**Unlicensed Carry of a Handgun

Two bills were filed in the Texas House, dealing with this issue, this session.

HB375 by Representative Jonathan Stickland unlicensed carry of a handgun.

HB1911 by Representative James White unlicensed carry of a handgun.

Note: For the first time in legislative history a committee hearing was held on unlicensed carrying of a handgun.  Two bills were filed HB 375 by Rep. Stickland and HB 1911 by Rep. White.  TSRA and TSRA offcers requested the hearing and both were heard in House Committee on Homeland Security and Public Safety on the same day.

HB 375 accumulated 18 joint authors and co-authors in addition to Rep. Stickland, the bill author.  There are  97 Republicans in the House and being a joint or co-author is considered a pledge to vote for the bill.

HB 1911 accumulated 30 joint authors and co-authors in addition to Rep. James White the bill author.

Being a joint or a co-author is an early demonstration of support for an issue.

Based on support HB 1911 was voted out of committee and died in Calendars.

No unlicensed carry bill was filed in the Texas Senate during the 2017 session.

Note:

In 2007 (see links to bill under TSRA Legslative History) TSRA passed legislation referred to as “car carry”, meaning that anyone eligible to purchase and possess a firearm could have a handgun, stored out of sight, in their vehicle, their RV, and later their water craft, without a state issued license.   This has not been a problem law enforcement or the population for a decade.  We will keep at it till it’s done.

Bad Bills–All Stopped

Who is the Source for Bad Bills?

Texas Gun Sense, wins the award for the largest number of anti-gun bills filed and worked during any Legislative Session.   What wasn’t an outright House and or Senate bill, was an attempted as an to amendment.  None passed.

At least 32 anti-gun bills were filed between the Texas House and Senate and a third received a public hearing.

Thank you, TSRA members, for coming to Austin and testifying in committee hearings. 

Bad Bills with Links

HB111 by Rep. Joe Moody (D-El Paso) Relating to an eduational program and fee reductions to improve firearm safety.   Referred to House Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee.  No Hearing!

HB191 by Rep. Diego Bernal (D-San Antonio) Relating to the notice given by a property owner prohibiting a handgun license holder from carrying a handgun on certain property.  Referred to House Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee.  No Hearing!

HB234 by Rep. Rafael Anchia (D-Dallas) Relating to wrongful exclusion of handgun license holders from property owned by or leased to a governmental entity and to certain offenses relating to the carrying of handguns on that property.  Referred to House Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee.  No Hearing!

HB246 by Rep. Rafael Anchia (D-Dallas) Relating to the notice given by a property owner prohibiting a handgun license holder from carrying a handgun on the property.  Referred to House Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee.  No Hearing!

HB255 by Rep. Rafael Anchia (D-Dallas) Relating to the offense involving the carrying of handguns by license holders on the premises or property of certain recreational facilities.  Referred to House Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee.  No Hearing!

HB259 by Rep. Rafael Anchia (D-Dallas) Relating to the creation of certain offenses concerning firearm sales at gun shows. Referred to House Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee.  No Hearing!

HB282 by Rep. Rafael Anchia (D-Dallas) Relating to the carrying of handguns on the campuses of and certain other locations associated with institutions of higher education.  Identical to HB 291 by Howard.    Referred to House Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee.  No Hearing!

Note: The above 5 bills were pre-filed together before session to highlight Rep. Anchia’s anti-gun position, if it was in question.

HB291 by Rep. Eric Johnson (D-Dallas) Relating to the locations in which a license holder may openly carry a handgun.  Referred to House Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee.  No Hearing!

HB391 by Rep. Donna Howard (D-Austin) Relating to the carrying of handguns on the campuses of and certain other locations associated with institutions of higher education.  Identical to HB 282 by Anchia.  Referred to House Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee.  No Hearing!

HB392 by Rep. Donna Howard (D-Austin) Relating to certain offenses involving the carrying of handguns by license holders on the premises of certain hospitals, mental health facilities, and nursing facilities.  Referred to House Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee.  No Hearing!

HB465 by Rep. Rafael Anchia (D-Dallas) Relating to the prosecution of certain offenses involving the carrying of weapons at amusement parks or locations associated with schools or educational institutions.  Referred to House Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee.  No Hearing!

HB631 by Rep. Donna Howard (D-Austin) Relating to a public awareness campaign on firearm safety and suicide prevention.   Public hearing on 3/20/17.  Left Pending in Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee.

HB866 by Rep. Joe Moody (D-El Paso) Relating to a new protective order “Lethal Violence Protective Order” with Senate Companion filed by Sen. Jose Rodriguez (D-El Pas0) SB 434.    Public hearing on 3/20/17.  Left Pending on House bill in Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee.

HB899 by Rep. Poncho Nevarez (D-Eagle Pass) Relating to the notice given by a property owner prohibiting a handgun license holder from carrying a handgun on certain property.  Public hearing on 4/11/17 in Homeland Security and Public Safety.  Left Pending.

HB987 by Rep. Rafael Anchia (D-Dallas) Relating to use of force or deadly force in defense of a person.  Referred to House Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee.  No Hearing

**Notes of Interest

*Legislative session in Texas is limited to odd-numbered years and begins, as per our state constitution, on the 2nd Tuesday in January.

*Only sworn-in Texas House members may vote for the Speaker of the House.  Rep. Joe Straus (R-San Antonio) was elected by all 150 members to an unprecedented fifth term as Speaker. 

*Session began at noon on Tuesday, January 10th, 2017.   Bills began being filed in November after the 2016 general election.   Early filing, before session begins, is often done for tactical purposes and is not considered to be a “leg up” on the legislative process.   Speaker Joe Straus was re-elected unanimously by all House members in a record vote.

*Bill filing for this session ended on March 10th and Committee hearings began in earnest.

*The bill numbers above are links to take you to the text of the bill published on the state website.  Underlined words indicate “new language” and stricken words indicate words being deleted.  Laws that impact Texas gun owners are sprinkled through many forms of existing code including, and not limited to the Penal Code, Wildlife Code, Civil Practices and Remedies, Government Code, or Local Government Code to name a few.

*The usual effective date for new law is Sept. 1st of the Legislative year, unless otherwise noted.