It looked like the so-called “campus carry” bill — the measure that would allow people with concealed handgun licenses to carry their firearms on public college and university campuses — would fail in the Texas Legislature.
Senate Bill 11, which the Senate passed strictly along party lines more than two months ago, looked like it was not going to get preliminary approval in the House of Representatives at press time Tuesday night.
House Democrats, who don’t have the votes to block legislation because Republicans outnumber them almost 2-1, seemed like they were going to derail the legislation with delays and parliamentary procedures.
The gun legislation and many other Senate bills had to get preliminary approval no later than midnight Tuesday, the deadline to bring Senate bills to the lower chamber’s floor this year.
The 140-day session ends Monday.
The bill came to the House floor at 9:30 p.m.
With only 2½ hours left and more than 100 amendments — plus parliamentary inquiries — Democratic and Republican legislators agreed there was not enough time to pass SB 11.
State Rep. John Smithee, R-Amarillo, was not surprised.
“When you put a controversial bill on the calendar on the last day of the session that you can pass a bill, it is destined to fail,” said Smithee, the dean of the Texas Panhandle/South Plains delegation.
“The only way you can possibly pass a bill would be if the speaker were to recognize a member, which is a highly difficult motion, to bring up the bill out of order or to move the previous question and I don’t see that happening,” Smithee said. “But even with that, it’s likely that no bill would get the required vote, which for most of those motions, would be two-thirds and in some motions is more than that.”
Two-thirds means at least 100 votes in the 150-member House, and the Democrats have 52, enough to block such motions.
Democratic state Reps. Chris Turner and Terry Canales said they were hopeful the Democrats could kill the campus carry bill, which has failed to pass in previous sessions despite massive Republican support in the GOP-dominated Legislature.
“Campus carry is a solution in search of a problem,” said Turner, of Grand Prairie. “This is a bill that our university presidents do not want, that our faculty and staff don’t want, and students don’t want.
“But because some parts of the Republican base want this bill, that is why the House has it on the calendar today. … And even though university leaders say it is unnecessary, it is costly and it is going to cause problems, there are still members of this body that support campus carry. I think it’s a bad policy and I am hopeful we can kill it.”
Canales, D-Edinburg, said he was just as hopeful, saying the bill was “not in the best interest of Texas and its children.”
A Republican senator who worked on a major gun bill blasted the House for putting the bill at risk of not passing.
“Why did they wait this long to put the bill on the calendar?” said the senator, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. “They had two months to do it.”
If the campus carry bill fails, it is expected to create friction between the House and the Senate.
On Friday night, when the Senate passed the legislation that would allow concealed handgun license holders to carry their firearms in public view — commonly known as “open carry” — Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said Speaker Joe Straus promised that the House would pass the campus carry bill in time for the upper chamber to vote on it.