Texas Bills: In the Home Stretch

With 19 days left in the Texas legislative session, we’re in the home stretch. We have seven bills that would make important changes for small farmers & local food producers–and each one of them has a realistic chance of passing. But we have to work hard to get each of them all the way through the process.

 

Please help us get these bills over the finish line! We have several actions listed below.

 

The first action to take is to call both your State Representative and your State Senator, and urge them to vote yes on the bills that are in their chambers. It can be a bit confusing, because the House bills (“HB”) are now awaiting votes by the Senate, and the Senate bills  (“SB”) are awaiting votes by the House–because each bill has to be voted on by both chambers. We have stopped listing the “companion bills” because they are effectively dead–the focus is entirely on the bills that have been approved by one chamber.

 

This looks a lot like the action item from two weeks ago, but there are changes because two of the bills have continued to move:

 

  • The Fair Taxes for Small Farmers bill, HB 97, passed the House, 140-2, and has now moved on to the Senate for debate.
  • The smaller, but still good, cottage foods bill, HB 644, has also passed the House and has moved to the Senate.

 

We then have two more actions:

  1. If you live in the district of one of the Senate Property Tax Committee members, making an extra effort to call them to support the Fair Taxes bill specifically–and then to spread the word to all your friends and family in the district.
  2. Calling the Chair of the House Agriculture Committee to urge him to bring the ungraded eggs bill to a vote (no matter where you live in the state).

 

You can read more about these bills and the many others we are working (either to support or stop) on our bill tracking page. The page includes links to fact sheets on each bill, providing you with all the details.

 


 

Action Item #1: Call your legislators and urge them to support all the local food bills

 

You can find your State Legislators by going to our Elected Official Lookup or calling the Capitol Switchboard at 512-463-4630. If you call after-hours, just leave a message on their machine. If you send an email, please be sure to add a few sentences to personalize it and explain why these issues are important to you!

 

Sample message for calling your State Representative:

 

My name is ___, and I live in [town].  I am calling to urge Representative ___  to support small farmers and local food producers by voting yes on bills that help small, local farms provide their products to consumers:

 

  • SB 572, to expand the cottage food law;
  • SB 1805, to allow the sale of ungraded eggs by farmers to restaurants, and
  • SB 932, to cap the permit fees that are imposed on farmers and farmers’ market vendors.

 

Add a sentence or two about why local farms & food are important to you, whether it’s about one of the bills in particular or the whole community in general.

 

Sample message for calling your State Senator:

 

My name is ___, and I live in [town]. I am calling to urge Senator ___  to support small farmers and local food producers by voting yes on bills that help small, local farms provide their products to consumers:

 

  • HB 97, to provide for fair, consistent property tax treatment for small farmers;
  • HB 644, to expand the cottage food law;
  • HB 1694, to stop expensive permits for sampling at farmers’ markets; and
  • HB 2107, to require local health departments to give straight answers to farmers and local food producers.

 

Add a sentence or two about why local farms & food are important to you, whether it’s about one of the bills in particular or the whole community in general.

 


 

Action Item #2: Focus on the Senate Property Tax Committee

 

HB 97, the Fair Taxes for Small Farmers bill, passed the House by a vote of 140-2! But it faces an uphill battle in the Senate, with very little time to get a committee hearing, a committee vote, and a vote by the full Senate.

 

Below are the members of the Property Tax Committee, who control the future of this bill. Please check to see if you live in any of their districts. If you do, please call their offices ASAP and focus your message specifically  on supporting HB 97. And then spread the word to everyone you know in the district to do the same!

 

Paul Bettencourt, Chair
Phone: (512) 463-0107
Counties: Harris, part.  (northwest Harris County, Tomball, Jersey Village, Hedwig Village, Bunker Hill Village, Hunters Creek Village, Piney Point Village)

 

Angela Paxton, Vice-Chair
Phone: (512) 463-0108
Counties: Collin, part. Dallas, part. (McKinney, Allen, Fairview, Frisco, Plano, Richardson, Lucas, Parker, Murphy)

 

Brandon Creighton
Phone: (512) 463-0104
Counties: Chambers, Jefferson, Galveston (part), Harris (part), Montgomery, part. (Magnolia, Conroe, Patton Village, Mont Belvieu, Beach City, Anahuac, Nome, China, Beaumont, Nederland, Port Neches, Groves, Port Arthur)

 

Kelly Hancock
Phone: (512) 463-0109
Counties: Dallas, part. Tarrant, part. (Haltom City, Watauga, Keller, North Richland Hills, Westlake, Euless, Grand Prairie)

 

Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa
Phone: (512) 463-0120
Counties: Brooks, Jim Wells, Hidalgo (part), Nueces (part). (Mission, McAllen, Edinburg, Falfurrias, Premont, Alice, Agua Dulce, Orange Grove, Robstown, Driscoll, Bishop, Petronilla)

 


 

Action Item #3: Call Chairman Springer

 

Last week’s calls about the ungraded eggs bill got some attention! Chairman Springer is talking with the bill sponsor, Rep. Lambert, about a compromise to allow the ungraded eggs bill to move forward. But nothing is settled yet. So if you haven’t called yet, please make the time to do so now!

 

Call or email Chairman Springer and tell him to allow a committee vote on SB1805, the ungraded eggs bill. Please be polite–rudeness or anger will backfire.

 

Committee office: 512-463-0762
Email for committee staff: Alexander.McMillan_HC@House.texas.gov (use a subject line like “Vote Yes on SB 1805”)

 

A phone call has the greatest impact, but a personalized email also works. Remember to keep the conversation polite and short.

 

Sample message:

 

Hi, my name is ___. I urge Chairman Springer to allow SB 1805, the ungraded eggs bill, to be voted on by his committee. This bill helps both small farmers and the consumers who want greater access to locally raised foods.

 

Add just one or two sentences about why this is important to you, whether you are a farmer, or you like eating at local-sourcing restaurants, or you simply want more opportunities for small farmers.

 

This is one of the very rare times where we are encouraging people to call whether or not they live in the legislator’s district. If you do live in the Chairman’s district (see the map at https://fyi.capitol.texas.gov/fyiwebdocs/PDF/house/dist68/m1.pdf ), be sure to explicitly say that when you call the office–and reach out to all your friends and family in the district to encourage them to call as well.

 


 

Action Item #4: GIVE

 

Support FARFA with your dollars as well as with your voice. It takes money to do this work–printing fact sheets, PR work, gas and parking at the Capitol, and more. More members means not only more funding, but also more visibility and impact at the Capitol!

 

Please join today. And if you’re already a member, please consider an extra donation to help us in these last three weeks of the session!