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Exotic Wildlife Association
Legislative Update
February 17, 2015 

EWA Legislative Update

2-17-15 

 

Fellow EWA members, welcome to the first edition of the EWA Legislative Update 2015.

 

The legislative session has started with a bang. As of February 13, 2015,

2723 bills have been filed with an average of 100 bills filed everyday. We have to date 132 on our radar.

 

Crucial bills for our industry are HJR 61, by Ashby, and identical companion SJR 22, by Creighton, that propose a constitutional amendment relating to the right to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife. The EWA has worked closely with the NRA during the summer to file these bills. Other organizations, including Dallas Safari Club, had worked on a similar amendment in the past. We all agree that the time is right to add this amendment so vital to our industry in the Texas Constitution.

 

Other important bills that EWA is negotiating are HB 965 and SB 379 on the classification on elk form exotics to native. These bills were filed also in 2013.

 

Great protagonists of this session so far, by number, are the Second Amendment bills. We have been tracking 47 of them. Several of them are about open carry, but bills have been filed about definition of knives; right to keep and bear arms; carrying arms in government buildings; forbidding the government entities from infringing on the licensed citizens’ right to keep and bear arms; gun sale tax holidays; unlawful seizure of firearms; carrying firearms in a secured area of an airport; carrying firearms in polling places for election judges and clerks; renewal of concealed handgun licenses (CHL); proficiency requirement for obtaining a CHL; carrying on campus; and carrying in public and private educational institutions. We will report them as the session progresses.

 

The first hearing of interest for EWA members was on Thursday February 12 at the Senate State Affairs for SB 11, carrying on campus by Sen. Birdwell, and SB 17 on open carry by Sen. Estes. Please thank these senators for their efforts. Both bills were voted out of committee after a nine-hour hearing, and they are now headed to the Senate floor.

 

Both bills seem to have enough support to pass.

 

Also several bills about water have also been filed, especially regarding brackish water and groundwater districts. We are still evaluating those.

 

Some other legislation of interest we are tracking is included below. We are still evaluating the intended and unintended consequences of each bill so we do not have an official position on all of them yet. You can read the text of the bills at http://www.capitol.state.tx.us.

 

If you want to contact your legislators, but do not know their contact information, please click here http://www.fyi.legis.state.tx.us/Home.aspx

 

Agriculture and Livestock  

  • HB 132 by Flynn relating to prohibiting local governments from interfering with a person’s right to engage in the production of agriculture.

EWA supports the bill.

  • HB 809 by James White relating to the composition of and qualifications for appointment to the Texas Animal Health Commission. The bill adds two commissioners representing small producers

EWA is negotiating the bill.

  • HB 965 by Nevarez, with identical companion SB 379 by Rodriguez, relating to the classification of exotic and nongame animals. This bill wants to change the classification of elk from exotic livestock to indigenous and native.

The EWA is negotiating the bill.

  • HB 1203 By Andy Murr relating to limited liability for an agritourism entity involved in an agritourism activity. Includes native and exotic ranching for profit.

EWA supports the bill.

  • HB 1270 by Fletcher relating to the authority of the Department of Agriculture to employ and commission peace officers as investigators. This bill is in regard of federal fraud and border security.

The EWA is evaluating the bill.

 

First Amendment Freedom

  • HCR 30 by Stephenson supporting prayers, including the use of the word “God,” at public gatherings, and displays of the Ten Commandments in public educational institutions and other government buildings.

EWA supports the bill.

 

Education

  • HB 135 by Flynn relating to inclusion of a course on the United States Constitution in the curriculum requirements for public high school students

EWA supports the bill.

 

Private Property Rights

  • SB 178 by Nichols relating to prohibiting the use of eminent domain to take private property for recreational purposes.

EWA supports the bill.

  • HB 1190 by Guillen relating to the compensation of property owners whose property is damaged as a result of a pursuit involving a federal law enforcement agency.

EWA supports the bill.

 

Second Amendment Rights

  • SB 11 by Birdwell allows adult faculty, staff, students and visitors who are 21 years of age or older (unless in the military), who have passed state and federal criminal records checks, and who have a concealed handgun license to posses a concealed gun on campus of public or private higher education institutions.

EWA supports the bill.

  • SB 17 by Estes authorizes open carry of handguns in Texas by anyone with a license, as long as the handguns are carried in shoulder or belt holsters. A concealed handgun license would become a license to carry a handgun.

EWA supports the bill.

 

Wildlife

 

  • HJR 61 by Ashby and identical companion SJR 22 by Creighton proposing a constitutional amendment relating to the right to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife.

EWA supports the bills.

 

Respectfully submitted by your EWA Legislative Committee,

Marida Favia del Core Borromeo, Chairman

Terry Caffey, Gib Lewis, Todd Franks,
Chas. Schreiner IV, Bruce Fairchild