Bill to reduce handgun license fee in Texas reaches Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk

The proposal, Senate Bill 16 by state Sen. Robert Nichols, R-Jacksonville, would reduce the first-time fee for a license to carry from $140 to $40 and the annual renewal fee from $70 to $40.

*Editor's note: This story has been updated throughout.

A bill that would significantly reducing the fee to get a license to carry a handgun in Texas is now on Greg Abbott’s desk.

The proposal, Senate Bill 16, would reduce the first-time fee for a license to carry from $140 to $40 and the annual renewal fee from $70 to $40. The fee would cover the Department of Public Safety's cost to administer the license program as well as $27 needed for county, state and federal background checks, according to the bill's author, state Sen. Robert Nichols, R-Jacksonville.

Lawmakers sent the measure to the governor on Monday. Abbott believes Texas shouldn't impose any fees on licenses to carry handguns, a spokeswoman said in January.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick granted the bill "priority" status in the Senate.

“No Texan should be deprived of their right to self-protection because of onerous licensing fees imposed by the state,” Patrick said in a video on Thursday.

The measure includes an amendment by state Rep. Jeff Leach, R-Plano, that would waive the fee for peace officers to get a license to carry a gun.

Only Illinois and Arkansas now have higher fees to obtain a license to carry a handgun, Nichols said.

The proposal would take Texas from one of the highest fees in the nation to one of the lowest. Reducing the fee would cost the state roughly $12.6 million in 2018.

Another high-profile gun proposal in the Texas Legislature appears unlikely to pass. The measure, which would allow Texans to carry a handgun without a permit — supporters call it "constitutional carry" — is dead, according to the state lawmaker who has championed the issue for the last two legislative sessions. The measure never made it out of committee and a similar proposal was not considered on the House floor.

“Constitutional carry as we know it is dead in the House,” state Rep. Jonathan Stickland, R-Bedford, told The Texas Tribune on Monday.

Meanwhile, a House committee on Tuesday approved a handful of other gun-related bills already approved by the Senate — including one that would allow firefighters and emergency medical service workers to carry a concealed handgun on duty, if they have a license to carry and complete 20 additional hours of training. Another would exempt county jailers and correctional officers from the shooting range requirement to obtain a license to carry.

The bills now head to the House Calendars Committee, where they could be scheduled for a vote on the House floor. But they face a Sunday deadline, the last day that committee can place Senate bills on the lower chamber's calendar for consideration.

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