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White takes proposed bills to task

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Jas White 110719CHRIS EDWARDS | PCPC State Rep. James White (R-Hillister) is shown speaking before the Woodville Rotary Club in November 2019.

By Chris Edwards

State Representative James White (R-Hillister) recently spoke out about some bill proposals up for consideration in the next legislation.

The 87th Texas Legislature will not gavel in until January of 2021, but state lawmakers have had the opportunity to file bills since November. White recently took three of the proposed bills to task and called them “assaults on liberty.”

The bills in question, House Bill 238, HB 185 and HB 196, all filed by Rep. Terry Meza (D-Irving) primarily deal with firearms-related issues, and White, in a news release, said the bills are “disrespectful, immoral and unconstitutional to freedom-loving and law-abiding Texans from the Sabine to the trans-Pecos; from the Texas Panhandle to the South Texas Plain.”

HB 238, looks to repeal the state firearms pre-emption law and allow local governments to restrict guns as they please. HB 185, seeks to mandate firearms to be stored in locked gun cases, safes or cabinets, and would make failure to do so a criminal act.

HB 196 was filed to modify the “castle doctrine,” which gives residents the right to use deadly force to protect their “land or tangible, movable property,” according to the Texas Penal Code. The bill looks to modify the requirement that homeowners not be able to safely retreat before deploying deadly force. It also seeks to remove robbery and aggravated robbery as crimes that can be legally stopped with deadly force.

Meza’s bill to modify “castle doctrine” has already caused a stir. She claimed on Twitter that the bill has been misrepresented in news outlets. “While theft is obviously wrong, we have laws to address that. I don’t believe that stealing someone’s lawn ornament should be an offense punishable by death” she posted in a Nov. 19 tweet.

Gov. Greg Abbott responded to Meza’s tweet by stating that “We won’t force Texas homeowners to retreat…homeowners need to protect themselves now more than ever.”

White said that many of his constituents have expressed concern about firearms-related legislation. “None of these bills address any concerns with mass shootings,” White said. “The put more law-abiding citizens in danger, subject them to civil litigation and criminal prosecution.”

Although thousands of bills typically get filed during a legislative year, only a fraction of them usually make it through the state House and Senate to find their way to Abbott in order to be signed into law.

White, who serves as chair of the corrections committee in the state legislature, and also serves as part of the redistricting and judiciary and civil jurisprudence committees, has authored or sponsored several bills in advance of the coming session.

One bill that has White’s authorship is a property tax reform bill, HB 529, which would cap year-to-year appraisal increases at 2.5%. Currently the limit on increases is 10%.

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