State Sen. Jeff Wentworth surprised his colleagues and brought the Senate to a standstill today when he tried to tack his controversial campus carry bill onto another measure.
Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, introduced a bill that she said would, among other things, reduce reporting requirements for universities and help drive down tuition rates. The bill, she said, was particularly important as universities are being asked to do more with less because of the state's budget woes.
But the conversation quickly turned from cutting costs to carrying guns on campus when Wentworth, R-San Antonio, introduced his surprise amendment: his bill that would allow concealed handgun license holders to pack heat on college campuses.
Wentworth said his amendment was basically SB 354, which stalled in the Senate a couple weeks ago. Wentworth has said that he was working on a way to revive the bill.
“This was sort of a last-minute amendment,” Wentworth said. The move shocked Zaffirini and many other senators. Business in the chamber came to a halt as senators gathered around the podium to discuss it.
Some senators, like Sen. Robert Duncan, R-Lubbock, were prepared to add their own the amendments to Wentworth's, but before that could happen, Zaffirini pulled her bill down and said it would be taken up again tomorrow.
Wentworth said he was just trying to use the parliamentary tactics available to get his bill passed.
He said he was not sure what might happen if Zaffirini's bill comes up again tomorrow. “Who knew this was going to happen today,” he said.
Zaffirini said she was disappointed, and that her bill is important because it could provide much-needed relief from unfunded mandates and unneeded reporting that drives up costs at universities. But if Wentworth succeeds in adding his amendment — and she believes he has the votes — then she said she would have no choice but to kill her bill. Zaffirini said she asked Wentworth to back down, but he would not.
“If she considers that amendment so onerous that she wants to kill her bill, that is her decision — not mine,” Wentworth said.