Capitol Office: (512) 463-0564
District Office: (979) 848-1770
Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Bonnen Supports Gun Rights Legislation

Insider's Report Vol. 7, No. 12

Advances bill to increase hurricane preparedness

A large number of constituents have contacted my office this session advocating for stronger gun rights, especially because of the anti-gun messages we are receiving from our federal government.  I am continuing my efforts to protect our 2nd Amendment rights and, to that end, I have co-authored HB 1893 to allow concealed handgun licensees to carry their weapon on college campuses.

The April 3 edition of the Facts contained an informative article on the issue and I regret that I did not have ample opportunity to provide them with comments as to why I support this legislation.  Even though the House adjourned early on Thursday, my office remained staffed until 6:15 p.m.  I did not receive a call requesting comment until 6:49 p.m. via a message on my cell phone and, at this point, I was attending the local Coastal Conservation Association Banquet.

I wanted to take this opportunity to express to my constituents my strong support of this legislation.  While I do understand the concerns of allowing guns on campus, I feel it is important to remember that concealed handgun license holders are law-abiding citizens.  They have voluntarily taken training courses and undergone background checks out of respect for their fellow citizens and the law.  They are not the bad actors.  This bill simply allows them to defend themselves and those around them from dangerous individuals who could care less whether guns are restricted on a campus and who seek to do harm.

I have also filed HB 2532 this session to further strengthen the preparation and response of Texas communities to hurricanes and other potential disasters.  In the aftermath of Hurricane Ike, I observed firsthand how a lack of critical services hindered the ability of local communities to recover.  Some vital services such as water treatment plants, sewer lift stations, hospitals, and police stations experienced extended delays in having their power restored.  A lack of clean water and hospital care created a public health hazard, while fire and police stations without power posed dangers to public safety.

While electric transmission and distribution utilities performed rather admirably in attempting to respond to these problems, they found that when contacted with requests to restore power to critical services facilities, they often had outdated or no information on the actual location or physical address.

HB 2532 would require the Texas Department of Public Safety, Division of Emergency Management to facilitate the reporting of critical infrastructure addresses to electric utilities.  Under my bill, municipalities and counties would annually provide the division with the location and physical address of infrastructure in their jurisdiction that is critical to public health or safety and that requires electric utility service in order to respond to or mitigate the effects of a disaster or emergency.  The division, with the assistance of the Public Utility Commission, would then be required to provide this information to each electric utility.

HB 2532 also calls for each municipality and county to rank its critical infrastructure for service priority.  Electricity providers cannot be in all places at once to restore power.  If a municipality knows that its hospital and police headquarters are capable of operating on backup generators for a definite time period, then it may be willing to move its water treatment plant and sewer lift station to the top of its service priority list.  This allows the municipality to operate in the most efficient possible manner.

This week HB 2532 was voted out of the House Committee on Defense and Veterans' Affairs and reported favorably for consideration by the full House.  I am confident that my colleagues will agree with me that this bill is vital for us to be even more prepared for any future natural disaster or other emergency.