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story.lead_photo.caption Gary VanDeaver

Texas House Rep. Gary VanDeaver hosted an online town hall meeting Thursday evening where he highlighted issues from the just-completed state legislative session, as well as topics of interest like gun rights, local broadband service and more.

Around 20-25 people participated in the ZOOM call where VanDeaver, who represents Texas House District 1, addressed recent House and Senate bills and went over some of the information from a survey that was sent out to community members before the meeting regarding various issues.

VanDeaver reviewed bills related to gun rights in Texas, including bills for constitutional carry, gun suppressors and extending the "Castle Doctrine" into hotel rooms.

He also went over feedback from the survey in response to the question, "Should new gun owners take a firearms safety course, even if it is not required?"

The results of that survey were 88.2% said yes and 11.% said no.

VanDeaver split both sides with his response, saying he is pro-Second Amendment, but also acknowledging the need for gun safety. He compared the responsibility of using a gun to that of driving a car, suggesting that training and safety is needed for both.

"Just because a law doesn't require it doesn't necessarily mean it's not needed — especially for new gun owners," VanDeaver said of firearm safety courses. "Certainly, it is a huge responsibility to handle a firearm, regardless of where you stand on Second Amendment rights."

VanDeaver spoke about the state's response to the winter storm and making sure utility companies and electric co-ops are better equipped in the future to handle such issues.

He also said the pandemic exposed a need for better broadband service, especially in rural areas. He highlighted House Bill 5, which promotes better broadband service statewide.

"Broadband is no longer a luxury in the state of Texas. Broadband is a necessity when it comes to education and more," he said.

Of people who responded to the survey, 88.6% of them supported a better broadband infrastructure.

One of the last topics discussed by VanDeaver was election integrity. Senate Bill 7, which would have tightened voting by mail and eased restrictions on overruling election results, did not pass.

This bill died after a walk-out by Texas democrats during a recent session, but VanDeaver said the bill would not have passed either way due to inconsistencies with the bill. He said he does not support restricting voter rights, but also believes voter fraud is an issue that should be addressed.

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