Texas bills cover concealed handguns, distracted driving

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Friday, November 16, 2012

Among the issues covered in the first week of bill filings for Texas’ upcoming regular session are efforts to combine licenses for certain drivers, including truckers, and reduce distracted driving.

Rep. Van Taylor has filed a bill to combine concealed handgun licenses and driver’s licenses, including commercial driver’s licenses. The bill is HB158.

Texas law requires concealed handgun license holders, or CHL holders, to show their licenses to police when asked for identification, such as at a traffic stop.

Taylor said that combining the licenses just makes sense.

“Combining licenses is not only more efficient for the agency and for licensees, but also simplifies the process of displaying your CHL to an officer,” Taylor said in a statement.

The combined license would display the CHL number, expiration dates, and types of handguns for which a person is licensed.

Another issue that is expected to get a lot of attention is distracted driving. More than a half-dozen bills were offered in the first day of filings to rein in use of cellphones while behind the wheel.

Rep. Tom Craddick, R-Midland, is again pursuing a ban on using wireless devices to read, write or send text-based communications while driving. The rule would be applied to all drivers.

Texas law already prohibits the state’s youngest drivers from texting behind the wheel.

Craddick offered a similar bill a year ago that passed both chambers of the Texas Legislature. However, Gov. Rick Perry vetoed it.

Despite acknowledging that texting while driving “is reckless and irresponsible,” the governor said in a statement the bill was “a government effort to micromanage the behavior of adults.”

Instead, Perry called for additional education on the issue in driving safety and driver’s education courses, public service ads, and announcements.

About 25 Texas cities have adopted an ordinance to ban texting while driving. The bills offered at the statehouse would take the ban statewide.

“The Texas Legislature has a responsibility to give our law enforcement officers the tools they need to make our roadways safer,” Craddick stated.

The regular session begins Jan. 8.

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