TSRA Alert on SB534

Relevant bills filed and their status

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anygunanywhere
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TSRA Alert on SB534

#1

Post by anygunanywhere » Tue Mar 20, 2007 9:19 am

Please Contact Senate Committee Members Listed Below!

Tomorrow, Tuesday, March 20, the Texas Senate Criminal Justice Committee will consider Senate Bill 534 by State Senator Glenn Hegar (R-Katy), TSRA and NRA-backed legislation that will allow Concealed Handgun Licensees to transport and store handguns in their locked motor vehicles while parked on their employer's property. This important bill will allow hard-working, law abiding Texans to protect themselves on their daily commutes to and from work.

Members of Senate Criminal Justice Committee are: Chairman: Senator John Whitmire (D-Houston), Vice Chairman: Senator Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo), Senator Bob Deuell (R-Greenville), Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston), Senator John Carona (R-Dallas), Senator Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa (D-McAllen), and Senator Glenn Hegar (R-Katy).

Please remember that Senator Hegar is the bill sponsor so thank his office for carrying this important legislation.

To find contact information use the Senate's website:



http://www.senate.state.tx.us/75r/Senate/Members.htm
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#2

Post by quidni » Tue Mar 20, 2007 10:33 pm

I have two issues with the wording of this bill:

1) the requirement to notify the employer. I can see several problems with this - can the knowledge of the CHL become office gossip, or is there security to protect that info? What if the employer decides to provide an "alternate" storage place? Will other employees automatically know you've got a firearm because they see you visiting the "safe area" twice a day? Whose lock is on the "safe" and who has access to the key(s)? Or, can the employer decide that only their own security officer can carry your firearm from your car to the safe and back... ?

2) the bill doesn't clearly differentiate between a gated, proprietary parking lot and a public access lot that's owned, leased or shared by the employer. Would an employee of a store or office that shares parking with other stores/offices be impacted by this?

I would like the validation to be able to keep a firearm in my vehicle without repercussions from an employer. Am I just being paranoid?
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#3

Post by gmckinl » Wed Mar 21, 2007 8:22 am

Why is this a good bill?

The part about "if the employee has filed with the employee's immediate supervisor" is a show-stopper. Mine is quite anti-handgun and I would never even consider filling out a letter like the bill describes. I'm thinking we should fight this one tooth and nail. Am I missing something?

Why shouldn't we instead support SB739?
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#4

Post by Andiceman » Wed Mar 21, 2007 9:01 am

I too am very concerned about the requirement to formally notify (in writing) the employer. Seems like it would just cause problems for employees. Sure, the wording would prevent employers from firing employees for having the handgun in their cars, but we all know that anyone can be fired at any time without even being given a reason. "No, our decision to terminate John Doe certainly did not have anything to do with the fact that he properly notified us under that law, it was completely unrelated and due to our restructuring that department to gain efficiencies."

Bad news for employees if they can't keep a low profile.

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#5

Post by anygunanywhere » Wed Mar 21, 2007 9:10 am

After comparing the two, here is my opinion.

SB739 just addresses the parking lot issue, which to some is the only issue.

SB534 protects the employee from being terminated for having a CHL and possessing a weapon in the parking area. Yes you must notify your employer, but even if your employer is a rabid anti, and he can't terminate you, and you can recover damages if he tries, I really do not see an issue.

Go back and read all of the posts from folks scared for their jobs because Texas is a employ at will state - or whatever the term is.

I think both bills have merits, one for simplicity sake and one for job protection.

If SB739 was passed, and you have a weapon in your car, your boss finds out and fires you, if SB534 is not enacted, too bad, so sad. You can not do anything about it. You are hereby terminated for doing something legal.

If you don't like the wording, contact the sponsors and commitee and have it changed.

I personally would like job protection for exercising a right. We certainly don't have first or fourth amendment protection at work.

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#6

Post by Andiceman » Wed Mar 21, 2007 10:23 am

I'm not saying I don't want the job protection for exercising a right, but that I don't think the job protection be contingent on notification.

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#7

Post by stevie_d_64 » Wed Mar 21, 2007 10:26 am

To be brutally honest...

I have had my concern, even though it has been discussed that certain companies do encourage their employees to divulge their "certifications" with HR, and that no repercussions to that employee will be considered in any disciplinary actions taken for "other" issues, with that knowledge...

I believe these conditions to be extremely rare in the employment world...

The whole premise from day one was that the business between you and the state was just that...Yours and the state, no body else...

Once you let that cat out of the bag, forever will it be known and divulged to others maybe even without your knowledge or permission...Because there is no penalty for doing that to any private entity...

Show me somewhere in any of these bills where there is a provision, especially in SB534, where upon you informing your employer, the penalties for divulging that prticular information to future employees, whether deliberate or un-intentional can be penalized severely...

Now...I am all for clarification, and good discussion of bills like this...I might even support their passage...

But from the get go on these bills, I have yet to either understand the logic (tradeoff) of why it is important to inform a non-law enforcement official, how this got inserted into a bill that gives us better protection, than the sensibilities and methods we already utilize in our daily lives, just to be able to "park" when we go to work everyday...

See, I already carry to work...shhhhh...

I keep it in the vehicle (locked up)...shhhhh...

Y'all are the only ones that know (per our discussion)...

My employer will never know...

Like I said I might be persuaded to support these bills, but I'm struggling with why we need them...

If you work in a situation where the access is controlled, searches probable, no chance to refuse under penalty of termination, then you betcha I see a need for this...But since I don't work for NASA anymore where the entire property is covered under those annoying USC codes...Military bases (with their own rules and guidelines to address this particular issue), and other Federal facilities...

The tree that needs to be barked up, is the Federal one...And I know, I know that is almost a futile endeavor...

I know these are well-intentioned bills, and yes, I may not as yet found a way to wrap around these particular ones, and I may appear to be the southside of a northbound donkey on this one...

I want to be absolutely sure that my personal information (especially in this day and age) and accreditations are just that personal...Not even remotely accessable to the public...

I am certainly going to look at the bills again to make sure I can correct myself if I am wrong...
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#8

Post by Charles L. Cotton » Wed Mar 21, 2007 10:36 am

I fully understand the concerns expressed about the employer notice provisions in SB534. To be perfectly candid, I prefer other one of the other three "parking lot" bills, especially Rep. Farabee's HB1037. (I bet you can guess why I like that one more than others. :thumbsup: ) However, the reality is none of the other three bills will get passed in this session. I listened to the Senate Criminal Justice Committee hearing yesterday and was very impressed with the discussion and questions asked by the Committee Members. For the first time, they are taking a serious look at this issue and I think we are seeing converts to our side of the CHL v. employer dispute.

I believe it is important to get something passed so we can work on improving it, just as we had to do with SB60 in 1995. The first CHL statute wasn't perfect, but it was very good and it opened the door for a string of improvements over several sessions. Don't get me wrong, I am not opining that SB534 will pass and ultimately be signed by the Governor. I am saying that it is the only "parking lot" bill that has even the slightest chance of passing. I think it more likely that the hard work that has been done for the last two sessions will result in the passage of a "parking lot" bill in some form in 2009. Hopefully, I'm wrong.

Some people fear termination if they notify an employer that they have a CHL and want to have a gun in the car. This is a legitimate concern. However, while Texas is an employment-at-will state, it is not as easy to fire someone for a prohibited reason than many people believe. The larger the company, the harder it is to do. If someone is terminated because of their race, religion, age, etc. their employer never discloses this in the employee's personnel file. I a suit for wrongful termination, the employee's attorney will have to prove the true reason for termination and there are various ways to do that. Things such as the timing of the termination, past job performance reviews, patterns of termination a certain group of employees, etc. are all evidence that the "official" reason for termination is a sham. Is this easy to prove? No, it's not. But most companies don't want to pay to defend such suits and they don't like the publicity. Unlike most wrongful termination cases, firing a CHL is far more likely to get the attention of the media.

A lot of people are currently keeping guns in their cars in violation of company policy. If they get caught, they have no recourse whatsoever. If SB534 passes, CHL's will have a choice of following it provisions, or continuing to keep a gun in their car without disclosing the information required by SB534. The choice and the risk are up to the individual. To me the bottom line is this. SB534 isn't perfect, but it is a big step in the right direction and it's far better than what we have now.

Chas.


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#9

Post by kw5kw » Wed Mar 21, 2007 10:53 am

Well,
I like the state authorizes permission and I don't have to tell.

If I tell the owner of my company, and he decides he doesn't like it, he will FIND a reason to fire me and the reason won't be because of the gun, it will be some piddly little nitpicked reason that can't / won't be traced back to gun/age/race/religion/sex etc.

But he will find one if he so desires.

That's why I don't like the don't tell law better.

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#10

Post by stevie_d_64 » Wed Mar 21, 2007 11:27 am

Charles L. Cotton wrote:I believe it is important to get something passed so we can work on improving it, just as we had to do with SB60 in 1995.
I totally agree with that course...If its "in the mean time", we'll have another bill to massage this one up to what can quell the concerns some of us have, then thats all I am saying...I'm with you on this...No problem...
A lot of people are currently keeping guns in their cars in violation of company policy. If they get caught, they have no recourse whatsoever. If SB534 passes, CHL's will have a choice of following it provisions, or continuing to keep a gun in their car without disclosing the information required by SB534. The choice and the risk are up to the individual. To me the bottom line is this. SB534 isn't perfect, but it is a big step in the right direction and it's far better than what we have now.
The only reaon I disclose this anonymously in this forum was to illustrate, that even though I know the corporate policy is based upon an insurance requirement to state this "no guns" policy in their employee manual...I am respecting that notification, yet I am not violating corporate policy if I keep it locked in my vehicle the whole time I am on the clock...

Our parking lot is just this, it is not "premises" as defined in state law...

So as long as my watercooler conversations stays off the subject, and no one knows where I fall on this...I do not believe there is any foul here, except to someones sensibilities, if I eventually want to be covered by this SB534 if it becomes law...

I inform them of my CHL...They'll know that I have had it since the beginning of time (exageration)...They'll assume I had it somewhere near me before the bill became law...Bingo...The bubble will be precariously ready to burst...For any reason...

But I do see your analysis of the employment and firing conditions in Texas...I agree its a hard road to hoe for anyone on either side of the equation...

Like I said I'm not trying to be a pain, I want to visualize potential complications and have anyone challenge them for whatever reason, so we can all learn from the discussion...
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#11

Post by Charles L. Cotton » Wed Mar 21, 2007 11:52 am

kw5kw wrote: . . . That's why I don't like the don't tell law better.

Russ
I do too, but it will not pass. So it really is a matter of SB534 or nothing.

Chas.


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#12

Post by gmckinl » Wed Mar 21, 2007 1:09 pm

Charles L. Cotton wrote:
So it really is a matter of SB534 or nothing.

Chas.
The more I think about this, the more inclined I am to prefer the "nothing" path. I can't imagine telling my immediate supervisor as this bill requires. It also does nothing at all for non-CHL holders (as well as CHL holders) who are legally carrying long arms in their vehicles. You could be legal w/ your CHL and two dozen 1911s, but show up w/ one single Marlin 22 in the truck and whamo, you are in violation of the protection and thus out of a job.

Chas. - in your experience, why is it so hard to get a better version passed? With an immunity clause for the employer, I don't know why the objections would be too difficult to overcome.

I really want to be able to go straight to the rifle range after work w/o having to go home first. This bill doesn't help with that. Since I won't hand my supervisor a "lay me off first letter", it doesn't help w/ CHL either. Bummer, I had high hopes for this session.
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#13

Post by stevie_d_64 » Wed Mar 21, 2007 2:23 pm

Ok, to prove that I can be flexible, magnanimous and less of a pain...

This kinda jumped out at me again...And if "534" is all we can get this session in regards to this issue, then I can bite the bullet...Not like it matters... :lol:

"(1) the employer provided the employee an alternative
location on the employer's property for the employee to securely
store the employee's handgun while on the employer's property;"

Here's one of the big booger boos that has bugged me for years...

If "534" passes, I see this particular verbage being used in facilities that can restrict under 30.06, but given the ability, or at least compelled to provide storage for CHL'ers while conducting business in those facilities...

I know this cannot be worked this session, that is obvious, but this little seed needs to be planted soon and at least introduced in 2009 in some way shape or form...

So to head off the cautious crowd, I totally agree with the notion that the more you mess with it, the more chance for a neglegent discharge happening...But...If its good for this bill, and an employer has the choice/option to setup a secure place to disarm, and store your firearm for you...Then this should be the next logical step...
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#14

Post by Charles L. Cotton » Wed Mar 21, 2007 3:02 pm

gmckinl wrote:Chas. - in your experience, why is it so hard to get a better version passed? With an immunity clause for the employer, I don't know why the objections would be too difficult to overcome.
There are two factors. One is the private property rights issue and the other is the power of the petrochemical & business community. Just to show you how strong the private property rights issue is, Rep. Hupp was strongly opposed to the parking lot bill last session and she was as pro-gun, pro-CHL as one can be. I think she later softened her position, but since it was never going to get out of the Calendars Committee, that was a safe change-of-mind. Don't get me wrong, I think the private property rights issue is bogus when dealing with commercial property that's heavily regulated now.

As to the petrochemical industry and business community, I honestly don't know why they are over reacting to this issue. Nevertheless, they are and their friends in Austin are our friends, and they have more money. It's that simple.
gmckinl wrote:I really want to be able to go straight to the rifle range after work w/o having to go home first. This bill doesn't help with that.
Yep, I understand and I agree. But look at the difficulty we face getting a bill passed that deals with a CHL's ability to protect their lives while commuting to and from work. You can imagine how much more difficult it would be to convince a majority in the House and Senate that we need our long guns with us so we can go play after work.
gmckinl wrote:Since I won't hand my supervisor a "lay me off first letter", it doesn't help w/ CHL either. Bummer, I had high hopes for this session.
Again, I understand your concern and if SB534 passes, I wouldn't advocate anyone take advantage of the bill, if they feel it is imprudent. However, that's a personal choice and undoubtedly many people will choose to provide the employer notice. For them, SB534 will be a very beneficial change to Texas employment law.
gmckinl wrote:. . . With an immunity clause for the employer, . . .
Just watch, that provision won't be there if it were to come to a vote. The Texas Trial Lawyers Assoc. (TTLA) has already testified against that portion of the bill, and they were successful in getting the "loser pays" provision deleted from Castle Doctrine and it had huge co-sponsor support.

Chas.


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#15

Post by gmckinl » Wed Mar 21, 2007 5:30 pm

Thanks Charles. You are a master of insight.

Since I work for one of the big, bad, defense contractors I guess I'm just paranoid about some things. We've gone from being a company that had an FFL and shooting teams/clubs when I started there to being just another mega-conglomerate. Since I don't know what the dogs they run through the parking lot are trained to detect, I make sure to have no firearms at all in my truck at any time these days. So sad.
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