Reader Dan H. writes:
The Senate held the floor vote on the Senate committee substitute for Rep Phillips’ HB910. It started as expected, with the Dems using delaying tactics…basically throwing anything and everything against the wall to get something to stick. Attempted amendments this time revolved around reciprocity and attempts to tie it to the Waco biker incident, as well as rehashing the local opt-in/out nonsense, retention training, visible display of license, signage, and annual background checks. Fortunately, Sen. Estes, the Senate sponsor stuck to his guns and fended off attempts to add the eight Dem amendments intended to delay or derail the process . . .
But then things went strange, in the way it can only in the Texas legislature…Sen. Don Huffines (R) placed two amendments on the floor. First, amendment number 8 (constitutional carry), which he then withdrew to help ensure passage of the bill. Then, the train not only left the tracks, it left the atmosphere and started orbiting Planet Crazy.
He forward amendment 9 which would reinstate the “Dutton Amendment” language which prohibits police from stopping and questioning an open carrier simply for open carrying. You may recall this language was removed from the bill by the Senate State Affairs Committee, which sent a committee substitute bill to the floor as CSHB910.
This launched a heated debate between Huffines and Sen. John Whitmire which lasted for almost an hour and half as Whitmire tried to delay and derail. In a similar, but much more heated manner to what happened in the House, the Senate split along ideological lines, with the far right and far left forming a coalition in support of the amendment.
Make no mistake, the Dems, primarily Senators Royce West and Rodney Ellis, are not for OC, but view the amendment as protection for constituents in their primarily minority districts. Politics makes strange bedfellows indeed.
Essentially, select Dems were fighting FOR an amendment to a bill they were voting AGAINST. The debate over Amendment 9 was suspended just after 3pm and postponed until 6pm so other business could be conducted.
When the floor action resumed, it was a continuation of the same, this time pitting Huffines against both Senators Whitmire (D) and Joan Huffman (R). Huffman, a former judge and chair of the Senate State Affairs committee, was responsible for stripping the Dutton/Rinaldi language from HB910. Both Whitmire and Huffman accused Huffines of endangering the lives of police officers and creating backdoor constitutional carry with this amendment.
Huffman attempted an amendment to the amendment which would increase the penalties for reckless or unlawful carry of a firearm, but it was withdrawn after Huffines called into question a parliamentary question regarding relevancy. After six hours of debate Huffines’ amendment passed 19-12. Not willing to let it go, Huffman attempted a second amendment to create an offense for knowingly open carrying without a license. This too was defeated, to keep the bill as clean as possible.
Sen. Brian Birdwell, author of the Campus Carry bill, declined to amend the bill with campus carry so it could move to the house cleanly. He expressed his confidence that his bill (SB11 sponsored by Rep. Allen Fletcher) will be passed by the house next week.
In the end, it passed on a vote of 20-11. Sen Ellis (D-Houston) voted for the bill as amended by Huffines on the second reading, as he put it, if this bad bill passes without it, racial profiling would increase. The wonders never cease….
It now goes back to conference committee to agree upon language. Since it comes back to the house with the same language it arrived with, it should be quick. Hopefully, this will be on the way to the Governor’s desk early next week.
You can’t pay for this kind of entertainment.