Action Alert (Texas): Raw Milk and Permit Fee Bills – Hearing on Wednesday, February 27

Two important bills will have a hearing before the Texas House Public Health Committee this Wednesday, February 27.

The first bill, HB 46, would allow licensed dairy farmers to sell raw milk at farmers’ markets and fairs, as well as do home delivery and make other delivery arrangements with their customers.  While raw milk is legal in Texas already, the current law requires consumers to drive to the farm every time they want to buy raw milk — imposing hardship on consumers and unfairly restricting small farmers from marketing their product.

The second bill, HB 910, would cap the permit fees that could be imposed on farmers and farmers’ market vendors to $50 per year per county or city.

WE NEED YOUR HELP!

Please make plans to join us at the Capitol on Wednesday.  We need a large turnout to let the Committee members know the level of public support for these bills.  The raw milk bill, in particular, faces opposition from powerful industry groups, so we need strong grassroots support.  You don’t have to testify to be heard – you can have a powerful impact just by being there and signing in to support the bills.

Our goal is to have a room packed with raw milk and local foods supporters, but have only a few people give short testimonies, so that we respect the legislators’ time and the need for them to also hear the other bills on the agenda for the day.  Remember, by signing in, you will be listed as a witness in support of the bill, whether or not you testify.  If you wish to testify, please plan to keep your comments to no more than 3 minutes – and shorter is even better.

While you’re at the Capitol, you can increase your impact by taking a few minutes to visit your Representative and Senator in person.  We’ll have flyers available with talking points on the raw milk bill and the farmers market fee bill.

Please help spread the word!  Invite your friends to join you and be part of taking back control of our food supply.

LOGISTICS

DATE:  Wednesday, February 27, 2013

TIME:  8:00 am.  Please try to arrive a few minutes early, so you can sign up at one of the electronic kiosks in the Capitol.  The Committee will meet from 8:00 am to 10:00 am, and will re-convene in the afternoon if the hearing goes long (which hopefully it won’t).  If you need to leave early, that is fine.  Just register in support of the bills before you leave, and you’ll be listed on the witness lists in support of the bills.

The kiosks will open at 7 am, so you can come early, sign in, and then leave even before the hearing starts.  And the kiosks will remain open for signing in for as long as the testimony is occurring, so you will still be able to sign in even if you come after the hearing starts.

LOCATION:  Capitol Extension, Room E2.012. Click here for a map.

PARKING:  Parking is usually available at the Capitol Visitors Center, located between Trinity and San Jacinto Streets at 12th and 13th.  You can find a map and other options also listed here.

WHAT TO DO:  Come to the Capitol Extension anytime after 7 am, and sign in at a kiosk saying you support HB 46 and HB 910.  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. Whether or not you testify, your physical presence helps a lot.  Several staffers have emphasized that people often have a greater impact with the presence than with their testimony.

SIGNING IN:  The Texas Legislature now uses electronic witness affirmation forms which are available at registration kiosks located throughout the Capitol Extension.  Before you arrive make sure you know:

  • The bill numbers: HB 46 and HB 910
  • The committee: House Public Health Committee
  • The time and location of the hearing (View upcoming meetings): 8 am, Room E2.012

The kiosks are located throughout the Capitol Extension.  You can sign in at any kiosk, starting at 7 am on Wednesday, and continuing through the hearing.

If you have any questions or get lost the morning of the hearing, please call or send a text message to Alexandra Landeros (512) 537-2692.

 

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

1)  Call your State Representative to urge him or her to co-author HB 46 (raw milk) and HB 910 (limiting fees) and help move the bills forward.  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.

2)  Then email all of the Committee members to urge them to approve these bills as soon as possible.  The list of Committee members and their email addresses are below.

 

MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE PUBLIC HEALTH COMMITTEE

Garnet Coleman (part of Houston County – Zip Codes 77002, 003, 004, 006, 007, 010, 019, 021, 033, 048, 061, 075, 087, 089, 098) | Phone: 512-463-0524 | Email: Garnet.Coleman@house.state.tx.us

Nicole Collier (part of Tarrant County – Zip Codes 76012, 76102, 76103, 76104, 76105, 76107, 76110, 76111, 76112, 7615, 76119, 76120, 76133, 76134, 76140) |  Phone: 512-463-0716 | Email: Nicole.Collier@house.state.tx.us

Philip Cortez (part of Bexar County – Zip Codes 78002, 006, 023, 039, 052, 073, 211, 224, 226, 227, 236, 242, 245, 251, 252, 253, 254, 255) | Phone: 512-463-0269 | Email: Philip.Cortez@house.state.tx.us (Please note we previously had an error in Rep. Cortez’ email address; we have now corrected it.)

Sarah Davis (part of Houston County – Zip Codes 77002, 004, 005, 006, 007, 008, 019, 024, 025, 027, 030, 046, 056, 057, 081, 096, 098, 401) | Phone: 512-463-0389 | Email: Sarah.Davis@house.state.tx.us

Bobby Guerra (part of Hidalgo County – Zip Codes 78501, 78503, 78504, 78539, 78572, 78573, 78574, 78577) | Phone: 512-463-0578 | Email: Bobby.Guerra@house.state.tx.us

Susan King (Jones, Nolan, and Taylor counties) | Phone: 512-463-0718 | Email: Susan.King@house.state.tx.us

Lois Kolkhorst – Chair (Austin, Burleson, Colorado, Fayette, Grimes, Lavaca, and Washington counties) | Phone: 512-463-0600 | Email: Lois.Kolkhorst@house.state.tx.us

**If you are in Chairwoman Kolkhorst’s district, please be sure to say “thank you for sponsoring HB 910!”, while also asking for her support for the raw milk bill.

Jodie Laubenberg (part of Collin County – Zip Codes 75002, 75048, 75069, 75074, 75087, 75094, 75098, 75166, 75173, 75189, 75407) | Phone: 512-463-0186 | Email: Jodie.Laubenberg@house.state.tx.us

**Rep. Laubenberg is a joint author on the raw milk bill. If you are her constituent, please be sure to say “thank you for joint authoring the raw milk bill!”, while asking for her support on the fee bill as well.

Elliott Naishtat – Vice Chair (part of the City of Austin – Zip Codes 78701, 78703, 78704, 78705, 78712, 78731, 78735, 78745, 78746, 78751, 78752, 78756, 78757, 78758, 78759) | Phone: 512-463-0668 | Email: Elliott.Naishtat@house.state.tx.us

J.D. Sheffield (Comanche, Coryell, Erath, Hamilton, McCulloch, Mills, San Saba, and Somervell counties) | Phone: 512-463-0628 | Email: J.D.Sheffield@house.state.tx.us

Bill Zedler (part of Tarrant County – Zip Codes 76001, 76002, 76017, 76028, 76036, 76060, 76063, 76123, 76134, 76140) | Phone: 512-463-0374 | Email: Bill.Zedler@house.state.tx.us

**Rep. Zedler is a joint author on the raw milk bill. If you are his constituent, please be sure to say “thank you for joint authoring the raw milk bill!”, while asking for his support on the fee bill as well.

Please note: the initial alert had a typo in Philip Cortez’s email (an extra “l”).  The correct email address is now shown above, and is Philip.Cortez@house.state.tx.us