Only 8 days left for votes to pass bills!

Published May 19, 2021

 

The deadline for bills to be voted on by the full House or Senate is just eight days away – which means that we are rapidly running out of time to pass the Home Food Security bill and the Farmers’ Market bill!

Both bills passed one chamber with overwhelming bipartisan support and then have stalled in the other chamber.

We are working hard in the Capitol hallways and offices – talking to staff and legislators, correcting misinformation, connecting with allies, and more. And we need your help.

Have you called your State Representative, Senator, and the Lieutenant Governor? Encouraged your friends, family, and networks to call? Spread the word through your local homesteading or farmers’ market network?   

We have all the details on how to take action below – now it’s up to you!


ACTION #1:
Call the Lieutenant Governor to support the Home Food Security Bill

 

Call Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and ask him to help pass HB 1686, the Home Food Security Act, a.k.a. “the chicken bill.” He represents the entire state, so you can call no matter where you live in Texas!

Message line: 512-463-5342 (you’ll just leave a voice mail)

Sample message:

“Hi, my name is _____ and I live in [town]. I am calling to ask the Lieutenant Governor to support HB 1686, the Home Food Security bill, also known as the chicken bill.

[Add just a sentence or two about why the bill is important to you. Be concise – shorter is better, you just want them to know this matters to you personally!]

I hope that Dan Patrick will help move this bill through the Senate as quickly as possible.”

Or you can send a comment online at https://www.ltgov.texas.gov/contact/contact-general.

Spread the word to everyone you know in Texas and ask them to call Lt. Gov. Patrick!

MORE INFORMATION:

HB 1686 would protect people’s right to raise food for themselves. It allows cities and HOAs to adopt reasonable restrictions, such as banning roosters or to prevent odor or pest problems, as long as the restrictions don’t reach the level of effectively banning the gardens, chickens, rabbits, or cottage foods. You can read our updated Fact Sheet to learn more about the bill.


ACTION # 2:
Call your Senator to support the Home Food Security Bill

 

Next, call your State Senator and urge him or her to support HB 1686 and to co-sponsor it to provide a public statement of that support. If you called within the last few days, don’t call again – focus on passing on this information to your friends and networks instead. If it’s been a week or more since you called, then it’s good to call again!

Find contact information for who represents you HERE. Again, you want to call your State Senator.

Sample call script:

“Hi, my name is _____ and I am a constituent. I am calling to ask Senator ____ to support HB 1686, the Home Food Security bill, also known as the chicken bill.

[Add just a sentence or two about why the bill is important to you. Be concise – shorter is better, you just want them to know this matters to you personally!]

I hope my Senator will sign on as a co-sponsor and help move this great bill forward in the Senate.”

Please note, in all the calls, be polite and respectful. No legislator ever changed their mind because their staff was yelled at, or because someone threatened not to vote for them again. You will hurt our cause if you are hostile – be calm, clear, and concise as you explain that you want their support for the bill and why.

Bonus:  There are three Senators who we have been told are holding up the bill: Sen. Paul Bettencourt (chair of the committee), Sen. Robert Nichols, and Sen. Kel Seliger. We need them to hear from people who live in their district and are constituents. So, check out their districts, and reach out to any individuals or networks you know there to urge them to call!

  • Bettencourt represents the northern and western portions of Harris County including Tomball, Jersey Village, just outside of Katy, and Hedwig, Hunters Creek, Bunker Hill, and Piney Point Villages. View the map of his district
  • Nichols represents much of East Texas, including Athens, Nacogdoches, Palestine, Lufkin, Liberty, and Orange. View the map of his district
  • Seliger represents Amarillo, Midland/Odessa, and much of the Panhandle. View the map of his district.

Again, even with the opponents to the bill, be polite! We want to change their minds, not make enemies.


ACTION #3:
Help get the farmer’s market bill through the Texas House

 

Last, we need one more call, this time for our Farmers’ Market bill. SB 617 is a simple clean-up bill, that protects farmers’ market vendors from excessive permit fees. The Texas Legislature already passed permit fee caps last session, but a few local health departments have not properly applied them because of some regulatory definitions. 

SB 617 simply provides legislative definitions for “producer” and “farmers market” so that producers selling food at markets all over the state are protected from improper fees.

The bill has already passed the Senate, so this call is to your State Representative.

Find contact information for who represents you HERE. This time, you want to call your State Representative.

Sample call script:

“Hi, my name is _____ and I am a constituent. I am calling to ask Representative ____ to support SB 617, the Farmer’s Market bill.

This is a simple clean-up bill that ensures that the laws passed in the last session, to protect farmers’ market vendors from excessive permit fees, are fairly and consistently applied across the state.

I hope Representative ____ will support the small business owners who sell food at farmers’ markets by co-authoring the bill and helping it move forward quickly.”

MORE INFORMATION:

Last session, the Texas Legislature passed two bills to reduce the burdens on famers and other people selling food at farmers’ markets, limiting the permit fees that could be charged and allowing sampling of food without a permit. Most jurisdictions have complied since.

But Harris County, Galveston County, and Smith County have not – they continue to charge excessive permit fees and require frequent renewals for some vendors. The departments claim support due to an old definition of “producer” from the state health department, of which the authors of the 2019 bill were unaware. That definition limits the word to mean “farmers” only, which even in its original context makes no sense.

SB 617 would fix this problem by providing legislative definitions of “producer” and “farmers’ market” that match what farmers’ market organizers and consumers around the state understand them to be. This would save local kombucha makers, kettle corn producers, and many others from paying hundreds of dollars in improper permit fees.