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March 31, 1999     (512) 463-0300

AUSTIN - Local governments will not be able to sue gun makers without approval from the Legislature if Senate Bill (SB) 717 becomes law. Bill sponsor Senator Jon Lindsay of Houston, says that if a lawsuit is going to be filed, it should be on behalf of the whole state. Lindsay says he is trying to stop a national trend that will end up significantly increasing gun prices, "I think this is kind of a back door way for the anti gun people to put the gun business, the gun industry totally out of business."

Originally, the Texas attorney general was among those prohibited from filing lawsuits. The provision drew opposition from most senators. Today the Senate added a floor amendment allowing the attorney general to bring suit on behalf of the state or any other governmental unit. The amendment was not enough to satisfy all the senators. Some senators say the Legislature should not choose who has the right to sue, they say it should be a local decision. Austin Senator Gonzalo Barrientos spoke against the bill, "The bill is out of control. It's bad legislation. They're going to be putting lipstick and earrings and perfume on it, but its still an ugly bill."

Houston Senator Rodney Ellis sponsored SB 411, sales tax relief, which passed out of the Finance Committee today. The $250 million dollar package exempts diapers and over-the-counter medicine for children. It also creates a 14 day sales tax holiday on shoes and clothing in August. The bill mirrors a tax cut proposal outlined by Governor George W. Bush during his 1998 campaign.

In a press conference today, Ellis said, "The Texas sales tax rate takes the most from those who can least afford it in our state. This plan will provide tax relief to all Texans particularly those most in need."

Lt. Governor Rick Perry celebrated the session's halfway mark by reviewing the Senate's accomplishments, stating, "As of last Friday the Senate has accomplished more this session than any legislative session in the past decade. When it comes to hard work and dedication and I might add bipartisan cooperation, this Senate has excelled."

The Senate will reconvene Tuesday, April 6 at 10:00 a.m.

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