Published March 29, 2021
One of our priority bills is getting a hearing this week.
The Home Food Security bill, HB 1686, would assure people’s right to raise food for themselves through gardening or keeping small numbers of chicken, rabbits, and bees. While these activities should bother no one, some cities – and even more homeowners’ associations (HOAs) – have a knee-jerk reaction to anything “agricultural,” and ban people from raising food for themselves and their families.
HB 1686 would protect Texans from overly restrictive regulations or bans by cities and HOAs. Also called the Personal Gardens Protection bill, HB 1686 is authored by Representative Cortez, and joint authored by Representatives Wilson and Toth.
HB 1686 will be heard by the House Agriculture Committee on Thursday, April 1, at 8 a.m. Add your voice to help this bill move forward!
- Submit a short, written statement in support. It can be just a few sentences, explaining why this bill matters to you and urging the Committee members to approve it. You can submit your comments online.
- If you’re comfortable going to the Capitol, be there on Thursday morning:
- You can register in support without testifying – just enter the building, go to Floor E2, and sign up at one of the kiosks “FOR” the bill, “NOT TESTIFYING.” It takes just a few minutes. Masks are required in the building. You can find guidance on how to register at Texas House of Representatives – House Witness Registration Contact Management.
- If you have a personal story about your city or your HOA preventing you from raising food for yourself, you can testify at the committee hearing. Email Judith@FarmAndRanchFreedom.org for more details on logistics and strategy, and we’re happy to walk you through the process.
- Call your State Representative and ask him or her to co-author HB 1686 to show their support.
Special recognition goes to the Food Policy Council of San Antonio, for finding bill sponsors and doing great work on this bill!
Have you called your Representative and Senator to urge them to support our priority bills? Even if you have called before, CALL AGAIN if it’s been more than a couple of weeks since your last call. Be polite and respectful of the staff’s time, but let them know that these issues really matter to you and that you want your legislator to make them a priority!
We have the bill numbers, a short description of each bill, and fact sheets posted on our bill tracking page.
Other bills of interest this week
There are numerous other bills of interest being heard this week, dealing with food labeling, water, eminent domain, and rural broadband. If you want to submit written comments on any of them, click on the link for the hearing notice below the bill description. There is a committee-specific link for submitting comments included in each notice, and you can submit written comments at any time between now and the end of the hearing.
On Monday morning at 10 a.m., SB 725 by Senator Schwertner will be heard by the Senate Local Government Committee, providing a small but important eminent domain reform. The bill provides that if land is reclassified as non-agricultural, and thus subject to additional taxes, due to the exercise of eminent domain, then the entity who exercised eminent domain rights is responsible for paying those taxes – not the farmer who was forced into giving up his or her land. Read the Committee Notice.
On Tuesday morning at 8 a.m., the Senate Business & Commerce committee will hear SB 1145 by Senator Perry, dealing with labeling of fake meat. The bill prevents plant-based or lab-grown foods from being labeled as meat unless they are clearly indicated as being “imitation.” Read the Committee Notice.
Also on Tuesday, the House Natural Resources Committee will be hearing two good water bills:
- HB 2350 by Representative Zwiener would provide financial assistance to political subdivisions from the Texas Water Development Board for nature-based water quality enhancement projects, including the acquisition of real property (such as San Antonio’s Edwards Aquifer Protection Program) and the use of nature-based water treatment technologies.
- HB 1866 by Representative Lucio would require the Texas Water Development Board to make annual data collected on water usage in the residential, industrial, agricultural, commercial, and institutional sectors publicly available. Access to that data would support more transparent and appropriate advocacy on water policy.
Again, on Tuesday, the House Land and Resource Management Committee will hear a slew of eminent domain reform bills. There are three good bills:
- HB 901 by Representative Burns covers three important issues: a) fair market value, providing for an evidence-based valuation of a landowner’s property along with damages to the remainder conducted by a licensed real estate broker or certified appraiser; b) basic easement terms to be provided to impacted property owners regarding a private entity’s project; and c) additional new requirements regarding a special commissioners’ hearing.
- HB 2041 by Representative Leman states that a condemning entity shall disclose to the property owner any and all existing appraisal reports, produced or acquired, relating specifically to the owner’s property at least 3 days before a special commissioners’ hearing.
- HB 448 by Representative Bailes allows property owners to file complaints of alleged misconduct against certain entities regulated by the Texas Railroad Commission; providing a civil penalty.
In the “not so good” category is HB 2730. This bill makes various changes to the eminent domain process, but in reality does very little to help landowners. It is essentially a distraction from the real reforms, presumably pushed by the oil industry that wants to keep its ability to abuse the eminent domain process.
Finally, on Thursday, the House State Affairs Committee will hear HB 3853 by Representative Doc Anderson. This bill would use the existing electric utility infrastructure to expand access to broadband in rural communities across the state.
Want to stay informed on a bill? FARFA will continue to send out updates on bills of interest, however, we can’t provide notice of every milestone for every bill. So, if you are particularly interested in a bill, we encourage you to set up your own alert system. Sign up for free on the Texas Legislature Online website. Put the bill on your bill alert list, and you will receive an email whenever it is set for a hearing, approved by Committee, set for a vote, etc.