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Ryan E. Poppe

On Tuesday, the Texas Senate voted 20-10 to put the final seal of approval on the licensed open carry of handguns in the state from their end, and sent the measure to the House for their approval.

On Monday, in the first of what was probably the first of several possible measures on gun legislation from this group of lawmakers, the Republican majority in the Senate had pushed through the preliminary vote.

The 20-11 vote along party lines on Monday had made this final vote a formality.

Courtesy: senfroniathompson.com

AUSTIN — The Texas House has passed its first bill of the legislative session, easily approving a measure to curb human trafficking that’s part of a broader border security package.

The proposal sponsored by Houston Democratic Rep. Senfronia Thompson passed 143-0 Monday. It makes it easier to prosecute forcing minors into prostitution while establishing a state anti-sex trafficking unit.

Thompson’s bill was fast-tracked through the Legislature because Gov. Greg Abbott made border security an “emergency item.” That exempted proposals on the topic from constitutional prohibitions against lawmakers passing bills during the first 60 days of the session.

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

TEMPLE — The family of a Central Texas veteran who committed suicide is suing the Department of Veterans Affairs, claiming a VA hospital should have involuntarily held him for treatment.

The Austin American-Statesman reports that a March 12 lawsuit alleges Kevin Lee Hartbarger committed suicide in 2012 hours after seeking help at the Olin E. Teague Veterans Medical Center in Temple.

The complaint alleges staffers at the hospital failed to “timely diagnose suicidal behavior and obtain involuntary hold to allow for treatment” through a court order.

EPA

FORT WORTH — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has requested that the Environmental Protection Agency scrap plans to tighten national emission limits on smog-forming pollution linked to asthma and respiratory illness, arguing the change would be bad for the economy.

The new regulations on ground-level ozone, proposed last November, would “stifle economic growth and job creation,” Abbott said in a statement Monday, announcing a letter sent to EPA director Gina McCarthy.

In the letter, sent a day before the EPA's public comment period on the proposal ends and signed by Abbott and the governors of 10 other states, the agency is urged to maintain the current standard at 75 parts per billion.

Texas Senate Approves Open Carry Of Handguns

Mar 16, 2015
Joey Palacios / TPR News

AUSTIN — The Texas Senate has given preliminary approval to allowing licensed open carry of handguns in the state. The first major gun-rights vote of the legislative session came Monday after more than two hours of debate. A final vote to send the bill to the House is expected Tuesday.

Texas has allowed concealed carry of handguns since 1995, but a recent push for open carry has been taken up by new Republican leaders such as Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.

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