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The Brief: Feb. 24, 2015

This month's University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll explored registered voters' views on carrying handguns in public, finding a strong plurality of 45 percent supporting the current legal framework of licensed concealed carry.

Activists who support a legislative proposal that would lift the state's handgun licensing requirements stand outside the state Capitol on the opening day of the Texas Legislature on Jan. 13, 2015.

The Big Conversation

This month's University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll explored registered voters' views on carrying handguns in public, finding a strong plurality of 45 percent supporting the current legal framework of licensed concealed carry.

Another 22 percent were OK with either concealed or open carry, as long as it is licensed. Taken together, two-thirds of the respondents backed licensed carry.

Meanwhile, 23 percent would not allow public carry of handguns under any circumstances. A tenth of the respondents wanted public carry of handguns without a license, the "constitutional carry" option as it is called by its backers.


"There is a strong partisan twist to the numbers: 30 percent of voters who identify with the Tea Party said Texans should always be allowed to carry without permits, while the 'never be allowed' option barely registered with them," wrote the Tribune's Ross Ramsey. "Among Republicans, 6 percent said always and 12 percent said never. Among Democrats, 45 percent said never and only 2 percent said always. For each of the three groups, more than half would allow public carry of handguns with permits."

On the question of carrying concealed handguns on campus, the voters were almost evenly split, with 47 percent in favor and 45 percent against.

“Texas as it stands right now is a pretty pro-guns state and even though open carry may seem to be an anomaly, you still see Texans fairly comfortable with the status quo,” said Jim Henson, who heads the Texas Politics Project at UT-Austin and co-directs the poll.


“It’s easy to wander into territory where there is not a lot of support in terms of public opinion,” he said. “In the case of campus carry, it’s very divisive. In the case of unlicensed open carry, you’re out on the fringe.”

Disclosure: UT-Austin is a corporate sponsor of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.

The Day Ahead

•    The House convenes at 10 a.m.; the Senate convenes at 11 a.m.

•    House Appropriations budget subcommittees meet beginning at 7:30 a.m. — Article III (E1.030), Articles VI, VII & VIII (JHR 100) — at 8 a.m. — Articles I, IV & V (E1.018and at 8:30 a.m. — Article II (JHR 131). House Ways & Means meets at 8:30 a.m. to take testimony from the comptroller's office and the Legislative Budget Board (E2.010).

•    Senate Finance meets at 9 a.m. to hear from the Lottery Commission, the Department of Housing and Community Affairs and the Department of Motor Vehicles (E1.036). The Senate Natural Resources & Economic Development Committee meets at 9:45 a.m. to hear SB 191 prohibiting foreign control of the Alamo as well as a pair of bills — SB 293 and SB 541 — dealing with eligibility of events for the Major Events Trust Fund (E1.012)

•    Texas Faith & Family Day at the Capitol events take place all day. Featured speakers include Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.

•    Patrick and state Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, plan to unveil a tax relief proposal at 10:30 a.m. at the Capitol.

•    Abbott addresses the Associated General Contractors, the Texas Association of Realtors, the Transportation Alliance, Consulting Engineers and the Transportation Advocates of Texas at 12:10 p.m. at the Four Seasons Hotel.

•    Business leaders, chamber of commerce officials, local elected officials and transportation advocates meet at the Capitol to advocate for increased transportation funding at a 1:30 p.m. press conference.

Trib Must-Reads

John Ratcliffe: The TT Interview, by Abby Livingston

Corps of Cadets Selects First Woman Commander, by Bobby Blanchard

CCA Issues Stay of Execution for Rodney Reed, by Terri Langford

Perry Attorneys Challenge Amended Indictment, by Terri Langford

Feds Appeal Ruling on Obama Immigration Order, by Julián Aguilar

Combs Lands Position at Texas Public Policy Foundation, by Jim Malewitz


House leaders: Texas tax cuts could top $4 billion, San Antonio Express-News

Amid big spending plans, Texas senators ask to define border security, Austin American-Statesman

Republicans split on DHS funding, edging closer to partial agency shutdown, Washington Post

Largest nationwide oil refinery strike in 30 years expands, CBS News

In unusual twist, presidential race is revving up in Texas, The Associated Press

While some rape kits sat untested, suspects committed more assaults, Houston Chronicle

Ex-felon, former state Rep. Terri Hodge lands job with U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, The Dallas Morning News

Ten years for county commissioner who turned corruption 'into an art’, San Antonio Express-News

Report: Austin most economically segregated major metro area in U.S., Austin American-Statesman

Rick Perry’s 2016 economic argument might be getting a little shakier, Washington Post

Govern Yourselves, State Lawmakers Tell Cities, but Not Too Much, The New York Times

Quote to Note

“Local control generally sounds good until you realize that some cities are out of control.”

— State Rep. Jeff Leach, R-Plano, on the push at the Legislature to limit municipalities' control

Today in TribTalk

What Walker's surge means for Cruz and Perry, by Jim Henson and Joshua Blank

Reform state purchasing now, by Glenn Hegar

News From Home

As we follow bills on immigration and border-related issues during the 84th legislative session, we'll keep you updated on legislation addressing border security operations. Stay caught up on the session with our Texas Legislative Guide.

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    Immigration: The Next Five Years on Feb. 27 at at the University of Texas at Brownsville

•    A Conversation With State Sen. Kel Seliger and State Rep. John Zerwas on March 5 at the Austin Club

•    Meet the Mayors: Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price on March 12 at The Austin Club

•    A Conversation With UT-Austin Dell Medical School Dean Clay Johnston on March 26 at The Austin Club

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Energy Environment Politics Dan Patrick Greg Abbott Jane Nelson Rick Perry