AUSTIN - One senator pulled down a bill after another senator tried to tack on a controversial amendment. Dallas Senator Royce West sponsored the amendment which would require background checks for the sale of semi-automatic weapons at a flea market. The definition of a flea market would include gun shows.
Flower Mound Senator Jane Nelson sponsored the Committee Substitute for House Bill (CSHB) 749 and said it was the wrong place and the wrong time to consider West's proposal. "I believe the bill should go through the hearing process and I don't think Royce has the support to get that bill through the proper procedure so he's trying to amend my bill and I'm not going to let him do that," said Nelson. Her bill attempted to prevent the sales of other items--like baby formula, over the counter drugs and contact lenses--at flea markets.
West has filed a bill with the background check proposal but it has not been heard in committee. "It's absurd to me that we would have a situation where if you're a licensed gun dealer you would have to do a background check which is instantaneous now but if you're not a licensed gun dealer you can sell guns without doing a background check," said West.
Lt. Governor Rick Perry says he asked West to allow Nelson to pull the bill down before forcing a vote on the amendment because it is such a divisive issue. Perry also commented on another divisive issue--the hate crimes bill. He says although senators are divided on the issue, it should not harm other legislative efforts. "I don't think there is one issue that is more important than the entire institution of the Senate," said Perry. The Criminal Justice Committee is expected to vote on CSHB 938, the hate crimes legislation, soon.
Senate committees will continue to meet as the Senate rules state, rather than meet while the Senate is in session. Today, the Senate reconsidered a motion made yesterday to give blanket approval for committees to meet while the full Senate is considering legislation. Some senators were worried that allowing that would destroy the impact of a filibuster. The purpose of a filibuster is to bring Senate business to a halt.
The Senate will reconvene tomorrow, May 13, at 10:00 a.m.