Though this is not an extremely busy session of the Texas Legislature in terms of legislation directly related to outdoor activities, there are still some noteworthy events coming out of Austin. Specifically, there are now two pieces of legislation to keep an eye on: Senate Bill 317 and Senate Bill 457.

We covered SB 317 and HB 3550, the accompanying legislation in the House, in early April. Basically, those bills would remove the existing requirement to possess a valid hunting license to kill feral hogs on private land in Texas if they become law.

Though not much has happened with HB 3550, SB 317 passed the Texas Senate with overwhelming support by a vote of 31-0 on April 11. It’s now pending in the House Culture, Recreation, and Tourism Committee.

Senate Bill 457 is a particularly interesting piece of legislation that would create a state sales tax holiday on firearms and hunting supplies for one weekend each year. Texas currently has sales tax holidays for emergency preparation supplies; Energy Star and water-efficient products; and back-to-school supplies during specific weekends in April, May, and August, respectively.

SB 457 appears to be designed in a similar matter, but for hunting gear. Specifically, the legislation would exempt purchases of firearms and hunting supplies (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) from sales tax during the last weekend of August each year.

If passed, this legislation would enable hunters to purchase new equipment before hunting season opens during the fall without paying sales tax. Though that may seem like a minor change, sales tax can really add up when making a big purchase.

For instance, a person buying a rifle, scope, and a couple boxes of ammo can easily pay over $50 (and often much more) just in sales tax for that purchase. That’s not even getting into the price of a new deer stand, binoculars, etc.

Especially when combined with special promotions that retailers may offer during this theoretical hunting equipment sales tax holiday, that weekend might potentially turn out to be a great opportunity to upgrade gear. It could also just be a good chance for hunters to just stock up on other important items like ammo and gun cleaning supplies for the rest of the year.

If you need to buy something anyway, might as well make the most of opportunities like that as they come along, right?

In any case, both pieces of legislation are a long way from becoming law right now. So, stay tuned for more updates on how things progress on that front through May 27, when this session of the Texas Legislature ends.