AUSTIN, Texas — The Texas House and Senate reached a compromise on a bill to allow the permitless carry of handguns. Details on what's in the legislation were not available as of Friday night, but Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick told Capital Tonight several of the Senate tweaks meant to appease law enforcement remain.
"When you see the bill, it will be very clear that the House and Senate had two priorities, to be sure we protect Second Amendment rights for law-abiding citizens who should be able to carry. And for those convicted felons, dangerous people who can't under the law now, to make it tougher for them to carry," he said.
The House and Senate passed different versions of permitless carry and a select group of lawmakers had to hash out their differences. Law enforcement overwhelmingly opposes the measure but the Senate changed the House's version to include stiffening penalties for felons caught carrying guns illegally. They also barred people from permitless carry for five years after they are convicted of misdemeanors, including making terroristic threats, deadly conduct, disorderly conduct with a firearm and assault that causes bodily injury. It's not clear if both changes were kept.
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But the compromise clears the path to Texas becoming the latest state to lift gun permitting rules. Both chambers still need to give it a final vote before it heads to Gov. Abbott, who said he'd sign it.
Lt. Gov. Patrick also weighed in on the apparent tension between the House and Senate. The House adjourned until Sunday in an attempt to get the Senate to pass several priority bills. One of those is extending Medicaid coverage to new moms. The House wants it to last a full year but Patrick says they want a different timeframe.
"I think that bill will pass and I think the language that we're putting in for six months, the Senate will support. And there's only one state in the nation that I'm aware of that has 12 months," Patrick said. "I support the bill. We just need to make it less than a year."
Patrick also said the House and Senate are working well together and he's meeting regularly with the Speaker.
Click the video link above to watch our full conversation with Lt. Gov. Patrick including his take on where the winter storm reform bills stand and what could be included in the final version of the sweeping election bill.