A session of the Texas Legislature wouldn’t be complete without a bill — or two or three — looking to reduce restrictions on guns.
That’s just how things are in the Lone Star State.
Some bills, like the controversial campus carry law passed last session, have thus far proved the critics wrong in both predicted dangers and projected costs.
But this year’s Senate Bill 16 — a bill to reduce to the cost of first-time registration and renewal of handgun licenses — might have a different outcome.
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The bill, which is sitting on the governor’s desk, will more than halve the cost of obtaining a four-year license to carry from $140 to $40 and reduce the renewal fee every five years from $70 to $40.
State Sen. Robert Nichols, R-Jacksonville, the bill’s author, says the remaining fees would cover the Department of Public Safety’s cost to administer the license as well as the $27 fee for county, state and federal background checks.
It’s worth noting that the original bill sought to scrap all fees associated with handgun licenses, leaving the entire burden associated with providing those licenses on the taxpayers.
(But even that bill wasn’t as bad as Rep. Jonathan Stickland’s, R-Bedford, “constitutional carry” proposal, which would have allowed carrying a handgun without a permit. Thankfully, that bill is going nowhere.)
The nonpartisan Legislative Budget Board estimated the bill would cost Texas $55 million over two years.
Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed and legislators agreed that reducing instead of eliminating fees would be more financially palatable.
But the fee reduction will still mean a significant loss of revenue for the state.
Licensing fees in Texas are higher than in many states, but the costs are hardly prohibitive.
Guns, like any other item regulated by the state, should be subject to reasonable licensing fees, and cutting those fees should only happen if there is evidence they are significantly impinging upon individual rights.
That doesn’t seem to be the case here.
In a year when lawmakers are bending over backwards to cut spending, eliminating a guaranteed source of revenue without a compelling reason is perplexing.
Senate Bill 16 seems like a solution in search of a problem.