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January 26, 2013

Coming soon: action

Legislature expected to heat up in coming days, weeks

ATHENS — With the opening week in the books, the 83rd Texas Legislative Session is expected to begin picking up steam soon.

Fourth District State Representative Lance Gooden is awaiting his committee assignments, and in addition to the budget, will be watching closely to see what key bills make it to the floor. Gooden, who served on the appropriations committee during his first term, hopes to continue in that role. Speaker Joe Straus will make the assignments early next month.

In a statement released on Thursday, Gooden said constituents have contacted him concerning gun control measures that may be coming out of Washington.

“It is too early to determine what legislation will have legs,” Gooden said of the multiple bills in the works on the subject.

District 10 Representative Jim Pitts, whose district now includes a western slice of Henderson County containing about 13 percent of its population, has co-authored gun owner rights legislation.

“The Second Amendment was written with the tremendous foresight of our founding fathers and has endured for over two centuries as a necessary protectorate of a citizen’s right to bear arms,” Pitts said.  “I intend to stand up for that right and am proud to join Representative John Otto in authoring HB 553, the Second Amendment Preservation Act.”

Pitts said the bill will apply to federal acts that would include confiscating, limiting magazine size, limiting the amount of ammunition, taxing or requiring registration of firearms.

Pitts has filed 10 bills in the new session. Among the proposed legislation is a bill pertaining to prohibiting using a wireless communication device while operating a motor vehicle on school property.

Third District State Senator Robert Nichols already knows what committees he’ll be on this session. Lt. Governor David Dewhurst named him chairman of the Transportation Committee and vice chair of the Intergovernmental Relations Committee. Other committee jobs for Nichols include Health and Human Services, Natural Resources and State Affairs.

Nichols has filed four bills in the new session. Senate Bill 95 is designed to limit the increase of the appraised value of a residence homestead. The bill cuts the maximum increase in value from 10 percent to 5 percent.

Nichols has also proposed SB 96, which would prohibit state or local governments from taking private land for recreational purposes.

“No homeowner should lose the roof over their head so others can have a place to play,” Nichols said.

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