Members of the Texas House came in to work last week with guns blazing, passing one of the most controversial bills of the session: a law that would allow college students over 21 who have CHL licenses to bring guns into classrooms. That was just one of a dozen bills to pass on what was being touted as “Gun Bill Day.”
If having our lawmakers spend an entire day on gun legislation doesn’t play into the stereotype that every other of the 49 states has about Texas, I don’t know what does. Except maybe the fact that after the bill was passed Rep. Allen Fletcher (R- Cypress) said, “This is good legislation for the good people of Texas.” Fletcher, did you have to bring our name into it?
Additional legislation that passed includes creating a new category of law enforcement called a “school marshal.” The school marshal would be a person in each school tasked with serving as the official gun-toting protector of Texas’s elementary, middle, high and charter schools. And, the lawmakers say, it can be anyone: a vice principal, teacher, guidance counselor, coach, lunch lady, the guy that delivers the vending machine snacks, a bus driver, the crossing guard. Literally anyone.
Our lawmakers just want someone with a gun in and around our kids' schools. Personally, I always found nuns scarier than guns, but then again I don’t expect most people to understand the crippling Catholic guilt that comes with disobeying a bride of Jesus.
Other legislation that was passed this week includes protecting Texans' rights to buy certain ammunition (a preemptive move in case Congress passes tougher ammo legislation in the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre). Oh, and the “Come and Take It” bill got through the House on Tuesday. The Come and Take It bill would prohibit state money from being used to enforce any federal gun regulations. This bill hasn’t received much support from the Senate so it may die quicker than a janitor can fire a pistol.
Farm to table bill passed (And of course it was filed by Austin’s representative)
There’s a great line in the movie Bernie when an old man in a diner is asked to explain Texas. He breaks it down into five parts, and when he gets to the middle he says, “In Central Texas, ya got the People’s Republic of Austin with a bunch of hairy legged women and a couple of fruitcakes.” I guffawed when I first heard that line, until I was told by my native Texan friend that it’s a fairly accurate description of how the rest of the Lone Star State views us. But this a column that is quickly turning into stereotypes, so why should the so-called “Cottage Food Bill” be any different?
Brought about by Austin (of course) Rep. Eddie Rodriguez (D-Austin), the Cottage Food Bill removes barriers and allows more small businesses to sell their food and products at small market places like farmers' markets and festivals.
Abortion bill stalled
A bill making it illegal to perform an abortion after 20 weeks has stalled in the Senate and will likely not make it to house. This affects a slew of other anti-abortion bills that were set to come in its wake. A far cry from the 2011 session, when it seemed like every other bill had something to do with abortion, including the sonogram bill that Gov. Perry outlined as a priority.
Medicaid expansion dead
A bill that attempts to find a middle road between the Affordable Care Act and Governor Rick Perry’s refusal to take federal funding and be a part of the ACA will likely not make it to the House floor before the deadline. This expansion affects more 1.5 million poor Texans who rely on Medicaid.
You know who else the poor people rely on? Lawmakers. So maybe we should all spend a little less time giving substitute teachers guns and eating pecan pie and a little more time trying to craft a solution to our state’s crippling health care system.