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Texas 2019 Regular Session Wrap-Up

The Texas Legislature adjourned on Monday of Memorial Day weekend. More than 7,300 pieces of legislation were introduced during the 2019 Regular Session, and tracked over 165 firearm-related bills through the process.

Governor Greg Abbott has already signed House Bill 302 by Rep. Dennis Paul (R-Houston) & Sen. Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola), legislation that prohibits “no firearms” clauses in residential leases. This will protect tenants’ rights to possess lawfully-owned firearms and ammunition in dwelling units and on manufactured home lots, and to transport their guns directly between their personal vehicles and those locations. The bill is designed to protect the Second Amendment rights of renters and was filed in response to tenants who alerted NRA-ILA and the Texas State Rifle Association about a growing number of lease provisions restricting firearms possession and posting of 30.06 and 30.07 signs in apartment complexes. The new law will take effect on September 1 and will only affect future lease agreements.

HB 302 joint authors and sponsors with Governor Greg Abbott at recent bill signing (L to R): Rep. Poncho Nevarez, Rep. DeWayne Burns, Sen. Bryan Hughes, Rep. Dennis Paul & Rep. Phil King

In addition to HB 302, the Legislature passed the following, which have all been sent to Governor Abbott for his signature.

House Bill 121 by Rep. Valoree Swanson (R-Spring) & Sen. Brandon Creighton (R-Conroe) provides a legal defense for License To Carry holders who unknowingly enter establishments with 30.06 or 30.07 signs, as long they promptly leave when verbally informed of the policy.

House Bill 1143 by Rep. Cole Hefner (R-Mount Pleasant) & Sen. Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola) limits the authority of school districts to regulate the manner in which firearms and ammunition are stored in private motor vehicles parked on school property, including by school employees.

House Bill 1177 by Rep. Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont) & Sen. Brandon Creighton (R-Conroe) protects citizens from being charged with a crime for carrying a handgun without a License To Carry while evacuating from an area during a declared state or local disaster, or while returning to that area. The House and Senate adopted the conference report which contained the strongest language possible from the House version of the bill, protecting evacuees for one week after a disaster declaration, tying that protection to a disaster declaration only rather than a mandatory evacuation order, and allowing shelters which are otherwise prohibited locations to decide whether to accommodate evacuees with firearms in their possession. Gun control advocates are urging Governor Abbott to veto this bill, so please take a moment to contact the governor's office and politely ask him to sign House Bill 1177 into law!

House Bill 1791 by Rep. Matt Krause (R-Fort Worth) & Sen. Pat Fallon (R-Prosper) closes loopholes in the state's "wrongful exclusion" law that cities, counties and state agencies have been using to restrict License To Carry holders in government buildings.

House Bill 2363 by Rep. Cody Harris (R-Palestine) & Sen. Brian Birdwell (R-Granbury) replaces the requirement that minimum standards for firearms and ammunition storage in certain foster homes require those items to be stored separately in two different locked locations with a requirement to allow those items to be stored together in the same locked location. This would allow foster parents to store firearms in a safe and secure manner while making them more readily accessible for personal protection purposes. A Senate Committee weakened the bill with a trigger lock requirement for firearms stored with ammunition in the same locked location, but this bill is just the first step towards restoring the Second Amendment rights of foster parents and their families.

House Bill 3231 by Rep. Travis Clardy (R-Nacogdoches) & Sen. Pat Fallon (R-Prosper) improves and modernizes the state’s firearms preemption laws, specifically with regard to zoning authority that could be otherwise be used to circumvent state law and regulate the sale or transfer of firearms and ammunition. It brings preemption provisions affecting counties more into line with preemption language that currently applies to municipalities. Although a Senate Committee stripped out language providing legal remedies for private individuals adversely impacted when municipalities or counties violate preemption, it does contain language that allows the State Attorney General to recover reasonable expenses incurred when obtaining injunctions against localities to enforce the law -- including court costs, reasonable attorney ’s fees, investigative costs, witness fees, and deposition costs.

Senate Bill 535 by Sen. Donna Campbell (R-New Braunfels) & Rep. Dan Flynn (R-Van) strikes "churches, synagogues, or other places of worship" from the list of prohibited locations in the Penal Code, clarifying that these places have the same right enjoyed by nearly all other controllers of private property in the state to decide whether to allow LTC holders on their premises. Places of worship are not crime-free zones, as Texans sadly know. And current law, as written, only serves to confuse and potentially disarm law-abiding citizens.

Senate Bill 741 by Sen. Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola) & Rep. Brooks Landgraf (R-Odessa) prohibits a property owners' association from including or enforcing a provision in a dedicatory instrument that prohibits, restricts, or has the effect of prohibiting or restricting any person who is otherwise authorized from lawfully possessing, transporting, or storing a firearm. This measure tracks the intent, but had not been made part of, House Bill 302.

Senate Bill 772 by Sen. Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola) & Rep. Drew Springer (R-Muenster) provides for the inadmissibility of evidence in certain civil actions of a person’s failure to forbid handguns on certain property. State law does not currently provide adequate civil liability protections to business establishments which choose not to 30.06/30.07 signs, leaving those establishments vulnerable to frivolous lawsuits and providing incentives to them to adopt restrictive policies against the carrying of handguns by law-abiding citizens.

Statewide Safe Gun Storage Campaign. (Department of Public Safety) $500,000 in fiscal year 2020 and $500,000 in fiscal year 2021 in General Revenue to establish and promote a statewide safe gun storage campaign. The public awareness campaign shall begin no later than September 1, 2020. The public awareness campaign may include online materials, printed materials, public service announcements, or other advertising media. The public awareness campaign may not convey a message that it is unlawful under state law to keep or store a firearm that is loaded or that is readily accessible for self-defense.

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