Action Alert (Texas): Two Opportunities to Help Local Foods This Week

 
The Texas legislative session is moving quickly, and there are several ways you can help! Join us at the Capitol on Tuesday for our Local Foods Citizens Lobbying day, or come down on Wednesday for bill hearings (or both).

We have our Local Foods Citizens Lobbying day on Tuesday, March 19. Meet other people who are passionate about local foods, and go together in a group to talk with legislators. We’ll have materials available on all our bills, and you can pick which ones matter the most to you to talk about.

The next day, Wednesday, March 20, two of our local foods bills will have Committee hearings. The bill to give fair tax treatment to urban farmers, community gardens, vegetable growers, and small-scale producers will be heard by the Agriculture Committee. And the “DSHS Better Communications Act,” which would require the state health department to respond to people’s inquiries, will be heard by the Public Health Committee.

We need your help!

Below are the details on how you can help by coming to the Capitol on either day. If you can’t come in person, you can also help by taking a few minutes to call your Representative — every voice counts and makes a difference!

 
 

JOIN US AT THE CAPITOL

 

Can you make it to Austin on Tuesday or Wednesday, or both?
 
 

Tuesday’s Local Foods Citizens Lobbying Day

 
DATE: Tuesday, March 19, 2013

TIME: 9 am – 4 pm. The timing is flexible, so you can also come for just part of the day if you can’t make it for the whole time.

WHERE: Capitol Extension Auditorium, Room E1.004, Texas Capitol, Austin. Map of the Extension

PARKING: There is reasonably priced parking at the Visitors Parking Lot. Map of Parking Garage

WHAT TO DO: Come ready to listen, learn, and be part of the process! We’ll start the day by sharing the latest news on all the bills, from raw milk to cottage foods. There will be a short session to teach you the basics on how to meet with legislators. Then we’ll connect you with other people from your area, and you will meet with legislators from your area as a group. We’ll provide all the materials…just bring yourself and perhaps a few friends!

 
 

Wednesday’s Committee Hearings

 
DATE: Wednesday, March 20, 2013

TIME: The hearings will be 8:00 am – 10:00 am. You can sign in as early as 7:00 am.

LOCATION: Capitol Extension. The Public Health hearing will be in Room E2.012; the Agriculture hearing will be in room E1.010.

WHAT TO DO: Come to the Capitol Extension between 7 am and 10 am, and sign in at a kiosk saying you support HB 1306 and HB 1392. You’ll be listed on the witness list even if you leave right after that. The witness list is important because, when the bill goes to the full House after the hearing, the Representatives will look to see how many people were witnesses for or against the bill. Just 15 minutes can have an impact.

If you can stay for the hearing, sign in at the kiosk in support of the bills and then grab a seat. Simply being there and helping to fill the room with bodies who are watching the hearing in person makes an impact on the Committee members.

If you want to testify, please keep your testimony brief (no more than 3 minutes), and focus on the topic of the bill. If someone else has already covered your points, you can simply say that. The legislators have many bills to deal with right now, and we will have the greatest impact by respecting their time.

SIGNING IN: Starting this year, the Legislature is using electronic witness forms that are available at registration kiosks located throughout the Capitol Extension. The kiosks are in the side hallways that run parallel to the main hallway.

Make a note of this information, which you will need to sign in:

  • Bill numbers: HB 1306 and HB 1392
  • Committees: HB 1306 is in Agriculture and Livestock; HB 1392 in in the House Public Health Committee
  • Time and locations of the hearings (view upcoming meetings): 8:00 am, Room E1.010 (Agriculture) or Room E2.012 (Public Health)

If you have any questions either day, please feel free to call or send a text message to Alexandra Landeros at 512-537-2692.

 
 

CAN’T COME TO THE CAPITOL? YOU CAN STILL HELP!

 
No matter where you are, you can help support these bills at the hearing this week by calling your State Representative to urge him or her to co-author HB 1306 (property tax bill) and HB 1392 (DSHS Better Communications Act) and help move the bills forward.

While you’re on the phone, ask your Representative to also co-author ALL of the local foods bills, listed below.

You can get a short description of all of the bills at www.farmandranchfreedom.org/2013-texas-legislature-local-food-farm-bills

You can find out who represents you at www.fyi.legis.state.tx.us or by calling the Texas Capitol Switchboard at 512-463-4630.

 

Current Authors and Co-Authors

Below is a list of all the bills and the legislators who have already authored or co-authored them. If one of them is your Representative, be sure to say “Thank you!” when you call — and then ask that they co-author the rest of the bills too.

HB 46, to legalize sales of raw milk at farmers’ markets and through delivery: Authors: Dan Flynn, Dennis Bonnen, Jodie Laubenberg, and Bill Zedler; Co-Authors: Lance Gooden, Phil King, Lyle Larson, Rick Miller, Eddie Rodriguez, David Simpson, and Steve Toth

HB 254, to eliminate wastewater fees on urban farms and community gardens – Authors: Borris Miles and Eddie Rodriguez; Co-Author: Ryan Guillen

HB 910, to limit the health permit fees on farmers and farmers’ market vendors  Authors: Lois Kolkhorst, Eddie Rodriguez, Drew Springer, and Dan Flynn

HB 970, to expand the cottage foods law to cover more foods and sales at farmers’ markets  Authors: Eddie Rodriguez and Lois Kolkhorst; Co-Author: Scott Turner

HB 1306, to provide fair property tax treatment for urban farms, community gardens, vegetable growers, and diversified farms  Authored by Eddie Rodriguez

HB 1382, to provide reasonable, clear standards for sampling at farmers’ markets and eliminate fees on educational cooking demonstrations  Authors: David Simpson, Eddie Rodriguez, and Lois Kolkhorst

HB 1392, the DSHS Better Communications Act – Authored by Susan King

HB 1393, to allow licensed facilities to be located within the person’s residence – Authored by Susan King

HB 1652, to protect landowners who allow their land to be used for community gardens from liability  Authored by Borris Miles

 
 

Thank you for speaking up for Texas farms and local foods! There are many challenges ahead as we try to pass these bills, and your participation is vital.