There are at least two bills establishing sales tax holidays for firearms, hunting supplies (“ammunition, archery equipment, hunting blinds and stands, hunting decoys, firearm cleaning supplies, gun cases and gun safes, hunting optics, and hunting safety equipment”) and emergency preparation supplies working their way through the Texas legislature.
House Bill 849 is the NRA-blessed bill that “establishes two state sales tax-free holidays for Texas sportsmen during the last weekend in August and October, before dove and deer seasons, respectively.”
SB 904 would create a similar sales tax holiday in April on all the following items:
(1) a portable generator used to provide light or communications or to preserve perishable food in the event of a power outage, the sales price of which is less than $3,000;
(2) an item listed in this subdivision, the sales price of which is less than $300:
(A) a storm protection device manufactured, rated, and marketed specifically to prevent damage to a glazed or non-glazed opening during a storm; or
(B) an emergency or rescue ladder; or
(3) an item listed in this subdivision, the sales price of which is less than $75:
(A) a reusable or artificial ice product;
(B) a portable, self-powered light source;
(C) a gasoline or diesel fuel container;
(D) a AAA cell, AA cell, C cell, D cell, 6 volt, or 9 volt battery, or a package containing more than one battery, other than an automobile or boat battery;
(E) a nonelectric cooler or ice chest for food storage;
(F) a tarpaulin or other flexible waterproof sheeting;
(G) a ground anchor system or tie-down kit;
(H) a mobile telephone battery or battery charger;
(I) a portable self-powered radio, including a two-way radio or weatherband radio;
(J) a fire extinguisher, smoke detector, or carbon monoxide detector;
(K) a hatchet or axe;
(L) a self-contained first aid kit; or
(M) a nonelectric can opener.
I reached out to Paul Martin, my CHL instructor and a guy who teaches an emergency preparation class ever year, who’s been tracking the legislation closely, and he offered the following explanation of the various bills:
SB 904 would make certain disaster supplies eligible for purchase sales tax-free during the last full weekend in April. The bill was not amended in the Senate, so if it passes cleanly in the house, it will be ready to go to the Governor for his signature. Three other states currently have emergency supplies sales tax holiday weekends. Until this year, Florida had one as well, but I don’t believe their legislature reauthorized it for this year.
SB 228 is the identical Senate version of HB 849. These bills would create a sales tax holiday weekend for firearms and hunting supplies. In the bill, “hunting supplies” is defined as ammunition, archery equipment, hunting blinds and stands, hunting decoys, firearm cleaning supplies, gun cases and gun safes, hunting optics, and hunting safety equipment. Both SB 228 and HB 849 have been passed by the respective houses. I’ve not done the deep drill down to see if they are identical now, as both were amended during the process. If they are identical now, the bill can be presented for Gov. Abbott’s signature. If they aren’t, they will be sent to a conference committee to work out the details and then re-presented to both houses for a final vote. Louisiana has a firearms and hunting supplies sales tax-free weekend; there was anecdotal evidence provided during the Senate proceedings that Texans were going to Louisiana to take advantage of their sales tax holiday weekend.
For a basis of comparison, the Senate voted out on third reading SB 228 creating a sales tax holiday weekend for hunting supplies. The bill passed on a 21-10 vote. The fiscal note on that bill shows a negative impact of 11.1M in the next two years, and 35M through 2020. When we say “negative impact,” we are saying that it will result in a loss of tax revenue to the state. SB 904 has a 2.25M negative impact through 2017, and 6M over the next 5 years.
Both bills seem to enjoy broad support, so you might want to start drawing up your wish list…