E-CIG BAN FOR MINORS HEADS TO GOVERNOR'S DESK
|Senator Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa's bill to ban sales of e-cigarettes to minors will head to the Governor's desk after the Senate voted to concur with House changes to the measure.|
(AUSTIN) — A bill banning the sale of e-cigarettes to minors has just one more step before it becomes a law. Monday, Senator Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa moved to concur with House changes to his SB 97, pre-empting the need for a conference committee to resolve any outstanding issues. This bill passed the Senate in March and the House just last week.
Hinojosa said that the use of e-cigarettes, which vaporize a liquid containing nicotine that is inhaled by the user, is growing among middle- and high-schoolers. Studies bear this out, with a joint Center for Disease Control and Federal Drug Administration 2014 survey showing an increase in e-cigarette use jumping from 4.5 to 13.4 percent of high-schoolers and 1.1 to 3.9 percent of middle-schoolers in just one year. "We now have many minors using e-cigs in school because they think that it is a way to avoid smoking tobacco cigarettes," said Hinojosa. He worries that kids who become hooked on nicotine at a young age might graduate to smoking tobacco when they get older.
Some of the House provisions added to the bill would strengthen restrictions as relates to on-line sales. Under the bill, the penalty for selling e-cigarettes to minors would be a fine of up to $500, the same as selling tobacco products to a minor. If Governor Abbot signs the bill into law, it would go into effect on October 1st of this year.
Another bill passed by the Senate Monday would end diversions of the sporting goods sales tax to other areas of the budget. In 2007, the Legislature passed a measure requiring that 90 percent of all taxes collected from the sales of sporting goods go to the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife. Since that time, nearly a billion dollars in sporting goods sales tax revenue has been collected but only about 40 percent of that money has gone to TDPW. HB 158, by Wichita Falls Senator Craig Estes, would end these diversions and require that 94 percent of revenue generated through the sporting goods sales tax go to the Parks and Wildlife department. The bill passed by the Senate is identical to the version passed by the House, therefore it will head to the Governor's desk for final approval.
In committee action, the Senate State Affairs Committee passed the House version of the open carry bill. That bill, HB 910 sponsored by Estes, would permit licensed gun owners to carry a handgun openly in a shoulder or belt holster. The House version differs from the Senate bill in that it lowers the penalty for people violating gun prohibiting signage from a class A to class C misdemeanor, and would prohibit school marshals from carrying openly while on duty. An amendment added in the House that would prevent police from stopping people openly carrying to inquire about their license was removed in the Senate version. This bill will now head to the full Senate for consideration.
The Senate will reconvene Tuesday, May 19 at 11 a.m.