Update April 28, 2013:
We have good news and bad news from the Texas legislative session. The good news is that seven of our bills – including raw milk and cottage foods – have been approved by the Public Health and Agriculture Committees! Thanks to your support, these bills, which will help a wide range of food producers and improve access to local foods, have made it past the first major hurdle.
But the bills are now stuck in Calendars Committee to be scheduled for a vote of the House; if they don’t get scheduled by May 9, they will “die” in Committee. Please see the “Bonus Action” at the very end of this alert for instructions on how to contact members of Calendars.
The bad news is that the animal ID bill has been passed by the House and is up for a vote by the Senate as early as Tuesday, April 30. (Click here to read our most recent action alert on the animal ID bill.) HB 2311 / SB 1233 would authorize the Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) to adopt federal animal ID requirements, including that all poultry be individually tagged with permanent leg bands, unless they are from a commercial hatchery or a confinement operation. The bill would also authorize TAHC to adopt future federal regulations whenever it wants, which could mean new regulations on sheep, goats, pigs, cattle, and horses.
TAKE ACTION #1: Call your State Representative
a) Ask him or her to SUPPORT the raw milk and local foods bills: HB 46, HB 910, HB 970, HB 1306, HB 1382, HB 1392, and HB 1393.
b) Whether your Representative voted “yes” or “no” on the animal ID bill (HB 2311 / SB 1233), please be sure to follow up with him or her – click here for details on what to say.
TAKE ACTION #2: Call your State Senator
Ask him or her to OPPOSE the Animal ID bill: HB 2311 / SB 1233 (see action alert for more details).
Even if you have called before, it is important that you make the call this week. Legislators often ignore bills until they are past Committee, so it is important that they know these bills are moving forward. And on the Animal ID issue, we must rally as much support against the bill before it goes to Senate vote (as early as Tuesday, April 30) because the Agribusiness groups are using dirty tricks to push these dangerous bills through quickly.
You can find out who represents you at www.fyi.legis.state.tx.us/Home.aspx
or by calling the Capitol Switchboard at 512-463-4630. The Switchboard can connect you to their offices, and it takes just a couple of minutes.
If you prefer email to phone calls, you can email your legislators using this formula:
Be sure to include a sentence or two at the beginning about who you are and why you care about this issue! Form letters have very little effect.
BONUS ACTION – Call or Visit Calendars Committee
The Calendars Committee has incredible power over bills. They can choose to never set a bill for a vote, or to set it within a few days. Please take a moment and contact the Calendars Committee members listed below.
If you can make it to the Capitol this week, you can visit their offices in person, making an even greater impact. Most of the Calendars Committee offices have green and red sheets of paper so that people can register their support or opposition. If an office doesn’t have sheets available, you can leave your information with the person at the front desk.
- Fill out a green sheet (support/set for a vote) for each of the local foods bills.
Be sure to take the list of bills, above, so you have the correct bill numbers handy.
The Committee members, their phone numbers, and their offices are all listed below, grouped according to their physical location. The offices are usually open from about 8 am to 6 pm (or later) at this point in session.
Capitol Building: Ground & First (Room numbers beginning with G or 1)
Todd Hunter (Chair) – Office GW.18 – Phone (512) 463-0672
Doug Miller – Office GW.04 – Phone (512) 463-0325
Craig Eiland – Office GW.05 – Phone (512) 463-0502
Helen Giddings – Office GW.11 – Phone (512) 463-0953
Byron Cook – Office GN.11 – Phone (512) 463-0730
Roberto R. Alonzo – Office 1N.12 – Phone (512) 463-0408
Capitol Building: Fourth Floor
Myra Crownover – Office 4S.3 – Phone (512) 463-0582
Extension First Floor (E1)
Dan Branch – Office E1.308 – Phone (512) 463-0367
Extension Second Floor (E2)
John Kuempel – Office E2.422 – Phone (512) 463-0602
John Frullo – Office E2.608 – Phone (512) 463-0676
Eddie Lucio III (Vice Chair) – Office E2.808 – Phone (512) 463-0606
Carol Alvarado – Office E2.810 – Phone (512) 463-0732
Angie Chen Button – Office E2.910 – Phone (512) 463-0486
Please remember that the legislators and staff are all working VERY long days right now. Be polite and respectful of their time!
Texas Capitol, Capitol Extension and Capitol Visitors Center parking garage and other parking options.