Texas — long known for cattle, cowboys and oil — could soon be on the map for something much different.
State Rep. Giovanni Capriglione asked the Legislature to create a Texas Bullion Depository, where Texas could store its gold, which is now in New York, and where others could keep their precious metals.
The Southlake Republican must have the golden touch, because the House and the Senate have signed off on his plan and his bill appears headed to Gov. Greg Abbott for consideration.
“We are not talking Fort Knox,” Capriglione said. “But when I first announced this, I got so many emails and phone calls from people literally all over the world who said they want to store their gold … in a Texas depository.
“People have this image of Texas as big and powerful … so for a lot of people, this is exactly where they would want to go with their gold.”
And other precious metals.
House Bill 483 would let the Texas comptroller’s office establish the state’s first bullion depository at a location yet to be determined.
Capriglione’s changes to the bill must be approved by Monday, the last day of the 84th legislative session.
New York City?
The goal is to create a secure facility that would allow the state to bring home more than $1 billion in gold bars that are owned by the University of Texas Investment Management Co. and are now housed at the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank in New York.
“The depository would be an agency of the state located in the Office of the Comptroller, directed by an administrator appointed by the Comptroller with the advice and consent of the Governor, Lieutenant Governor and Senate,” according to a fiscal analysis of the bill.
The depository could also hold deposits of gold and other precious metals from financial institutions, cities, school districts, businesses, individuals and countries.
“This will allow for bullion to be deposited here, as well as any other investments that … any state agencies, businesses or individuals have,” Capriglione said.
Storage fees will be charged, perhaps generating revenue for the state. For instance, Texas pays about $1 million a year to store its gold in New York, Capriglione said.
A fiscal note attached to the bill states that the depository will have “an indeterminate fiscal impact” on the state, depending on the number of transactions and fees, but says it’s too early to determine the extent.
“It’s unusual,” said Cal Jillson, a political science professor at Southern Methodist University. “So far as I know, there are no states with bullion depositories.”
Supporters of the bill include the Conservative Republicans of Texas and Texans for Accountable Government. No opposition was registered.
This is Capriglione’s second attempt to create the depository. Two years ago, then-Gov. Rick Perry was on board, saying work was moving forward on “bringing gold that belongs to the state of Texas back into the state.”
“If we own it,” Perry has said, “I will suggest to you that that’s not someone else’s determination whether we can take possession of it back or not.”
In 2013, the Legislature ended before Capriglione could win approval of the bill.
Jillson said the bill’s sentiment is consistent with the anti-federal approach that conservative lawmakers have taken this year.
“It’s in line with the idea that Texas is exceptional and needs to keep a distance from the federal government that respects individual states’ depositories,” he said.
Capriglione said developing rules for the depository could take six months. But it could be a whole new industry for the state, he said.
“What I’m really hoping to do is to create a central storehouse of commodities,” he said. “I’m hoping we can start working on it as soon as the governor signs off on it.”
Anna M. Tinsley, 817-390-7610