Cancellation of HB 1293
TBA members and fellow beekeepers,
Your TBA board and others have worked diligently for the last months, and in some cases years, to draft legislation to update the beekeeping laws in Texas. We want to inform all of you of the status of HB 1293, the bill proposing changes to Chapter 131 of the Texas Agricultural Code.
After much discussion, the TBA board chose to not proceed with HB 1293 for this legislative session. This was not an easy decision to make. TBA is still committed to updating the bee laws in Texas, but that update will have to wait until the 2019 legislative session.
There are three main reasons that the TBA board decided to not proceed with the legislation this year:
- Communication/Involvement – TBA has worked on HB 1293, and its predecessor, for 4 years. We communicated to our members the reasons for writing the legislation as we did and invited TBA members to participate in the development of the proposed legislation. However, we did not communicate our message clearly enough to all Texas beekeepers. Some individuals reported feeling that TBA had poorly communicated to them, or did not solicit their input, so they opposed the bill on those grounds. It is a daunting task to gather input and to communicate with thousands of beekeepers across the state to the extent that everyone feels involved, represented, and routinely updated.
- Wording – Some individuals, both inside and outside of our membership, opposed the bill because of the way specific sections were worded. Many individuals offered good suggestions. TBA absolutely heard all of the input, and much will be incorporated into the development process for the 2019 legislative session. However, the time required to communicate, incorporate, and then legislatively write the changes to HB 1293 would have put us beyond the deadlines for the 2017 legislative session, so we stopped the process.
- Oversight – Opinions on what bee laws should look like in Texas vary greatly. HB 1293, as written, is an improvement over the existing Section 131 laws. It would have given Texas beekeepers an appeal process if they disagreed with the Chief Apiary Inspector on quarantines. The main issue here was whether the Texas Apiary Inspection Service needed a legislatively appointed oversight board to review their decisions. A change of this magnitude to HB 1293, without knowing all the details and ramifications of such a change, could not be properly handled in the short time remaining in this legislative session. Hence, we stopped the process so that all beekeepers could properly consider whether to incorporate an oversight board into the Section 131 laws and if yes, what its powers and oversight of the Chief Apiary Inspector would be.
TBA’s desire and the only reason for TBA suggesting changes to Section 131 is to improve the beekeeping industry in Texas, and thus protect our industry and our bees. Unfortunately, HB 1293, in its current form, is not the right change. We know that our current law is not working well for us and that it could be very oppressive to all scales of beekeepers if the letter of the law were strictly enforced. We highly encourage all of you to read the Texas Agriculture Code Chapter 131 to understand what the current requirements are and then to comply with them. Continue your involvement with TBA. Watch your inbox, read the TBA Journal, and attend TBA meetings as, together, we communicate about the next steps in this process.
We are determined to update the beekeeping laws in Texas. We will use the time between now and the next legislative session to address the issues listed above and any others you want to bring forth. You have our commitment to do so.
Thank you so much for your support. We wish you a fantastic year of beekeeping as the honey flow begins in Texas!
The TBA Board
- S Prev