Friday, April 17, 2015

Texas House Gun Debate: Censorship and Lawlessness

"But You, O Lord, are a shield for me,
My glory and the One who lifts up my head."
Psalm 3:3

Texas House Chamber -- Today the Texas House, backed by Governor Abbott, refused to consider a pre-filed amendment to the watered down gun bill they debated on the floor.

HB 910, by Representative Larry Phillips, would legalize the open carry of handguns in Texas conditioned upon paying certain taxes.  This is the oversold "open carry" legislation we've heard so much about.  During today's floor debate, Representative Jonathan Stickland intended to offer a pre-filed amendment that would have removed taxation from the equation (ie. Constitutional Carry).

While Stickland's pre-filed amendment was expected to fall short, it was also expected that there would be a recorded vote.  That didn't happen.  If you are willing to follow the inside baseball of one chamber of one state legislature, today's events in the Texas House of Representatives illustrates governmental lawlessness.

Typically, amendments in the Texas legislature are subject to a standard of "germaneness."  This is a high-falutin' way of saying that amendments to bills in the Texas Legislature have to be on the same topic as the underlying bill.  As Tony McDonald has explained, most of the time this is a good thing.  It prevents the type of "Christmas Tree" bills we frequently see at the federal level.  But it's also subject to abuse when leadership wants something done.

Today, they wanted something done:

Representative Stickland's pre-filed Constitutional Carry amendment was "ruled" non-germane behind the scenes.  Outside of the discussion Representative Stickland forced on the floor after the fact, there was no debate on the topic.  Leadership's logic was that removing taxation requirements from a bill discussing the open carry of a handgun is irrelevant to the discussion of a bill about the open carry of a handgun.  During the amendment process, leadership never protested amendments about insurance mandates, police procedures, or the open carry of knives.  But, yah, discussion of taxation under the bill was "non-germane".

No one expected Constitutional Carry to pass this afternoon.  That being said, everyone expected a debate.  For Governor Abbott and Texas House leadership to abuse the "germaneness" provisions of House rules to prevent said debate speaks volumes.


Author's Note: For obvious reasons, we're not going to reveal identities, but SEVERAL sources throughout the afternoon contacted this author over various mediums to inform us that Abbott was lobbying House members HARD behind the scenes to get the amendment dropped.

(And, yes, we're willing to go to jail over this.)


This is Representative Stickland's 8-page explanation of Germaneness that Texas House Leadership ignored.


Update: Matt Rinaldi has more:

Yesterday the House passed HB 40, preempting oil & gas exploration bans (122-18), and HB 910, allowing licensed open...
Posted by Matt Rinaldi on Saturday, April 18, 2015

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