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The Brief: May 1, 2013

Major gun rights legislation appears to have lost steam in the Legislature, but supporters say they still have time.

Guns at McBride's Guns Inc. in Austin on Mar 26, 2013.

The Big Conversation

Major gun rights legislation appears to have lost steam in the Legislature, but supporters say they still have time.

As the Austin American-Statesman's Mike Ward writes today, few of the gun-related bills filed this session — most of which aim to expand, not restrict, gun rights — appear likely to become law.

"This is a strong gun rights state, and I’ve been a strong gun rights supporter, but that doesn’t mean that a lot of these bills will ever become law," state Sen. Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa, D-McAllen, told the Statesman, adding, "Both sides have strong lobbies.”

Higher-profie legislation, like a bill allowing open carry of firearms, has instead lost ground to more modest legislation that has attracted bipartisan support, as The Associated Press notes.

The Senate, for instance, has already passed a bill that would reduce the number of training hours needed to acquire a concealed handgun license. Senators on Tuesday also voted to criminalize "straw purchases" of guns and to let students keep firearms in their cars on college campuses.

Alice Tripp, a lobbyist for the Texas State Rifle Association, told the Statesman that the "management of the process" explained why relatively few pro-gun bills appeared headed toward passage. But, she added, "there’s still time left."

Gun rights supporters, meanwhile, expect a few victories on Saturday, when the House is scheduled to vote on a series of gun bills, including controversial "campus carry" legislation, which could pass the lower chamber but faces an uphill battle in the Senate. (Use this Tribune interactive to track the gun bills still working their way through the Lege.)


•    David Dewhurst says Texas Senate will push for more business tax cuts (The Dallas Morning News): "Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst says the Texas Senate will push for expanded tax cuts, adding relief for research-driven businesses and broadband and telecom companies to a package that already targets electricity ratepayers and small business. But Dewhurst, the Senate’s presiding officer, said Tuesday that the chamber’s tax reductions won’t be in the form Gov. Rick Perry has suggested — or cost as much."

•    Mexico’s Curbs on U.S. Role in Drug Fight Spark Friction (The New York Times): "'So do we get to polygraph you?' one incoming Mexican official asked his American counterparts, alarming United States security officials who consider the vetting of the Mexicans central to tracking down drug kingpins. The Mexican government briefly stopped its vetted officials from cooperating in sensitive investigations. The Americans are waiting to see if Mexico allows polygraphs when assigning new members to units, a senior Obama administration official said."

•    UT to deliver records for regent’s review (Austin American-Statesman): "The chief financial officer of the University of Texas and a member of its governing board have reached a truce, at least for now, concerning the latter’s access to records entrusted to the former."

•    Battle looming over immigrant driver permits (San Antonio Express-News): "The House is girding to take on a potential political lightning rod: allowing immigrants in the country illegally to obtain specialized driving permits. A Dallas Democrat has teamed up with two powerful Republicans to craft a compromise version of a bill that would give undocumented immigrants the ability to drive legally in Texas and obtain insurance — only after they submit to a criminal background check, fingerprints and prove state residency."

Quote of the Day: "I cannot rest until we get to the bottom of what caused the disaster in West, Texas, and the tragic loss of life." — U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., who has vowed to conduct a Senate investigation of the West plant explosion


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