HB 4538 Relating to the regulation of beekeeping; imposing fees and authorizing other fees; expanding the applicability of an occupational permit

Bill Information:
HB 4538 (Kyle Kacal) Relating to the regulation of beekeeping; imposing fees and authorizing other fees; expanding the applicability of an occupational permit.

Why does it matter to TBA?
2022-2023 TBA Resolution
Whereas TBA recognizes that the Texas apiary regulations are important to the health of the Texas beekeeping industry,
Be it Resolved that TBA will continue to monitor legislative activity related to the beekeeping industry and pursue appropriate updates.

Chapter 131 of the Texas Agriculture Code – Bees and Honey is the statute that regulates beekeeping in Texas and is administered by the Texas Apiary Inspection Service (TAIS). The first laws regulating beekeeping in Texas were passed in 28th Legislature (1903). The last substantive revisions to Chapter 131 were made in 1983. Over 400,000 colonies were imported into Texas under import permits and over 600,000 under export permits in the state’s 2022 fiscal year.
There have been many significant changes in the beekeeping industry in the past 40 years and Chapter 131 needs to be updated to address these changes and bring greater efficiency to TAIS, which TBA believes provides an important function in maintaining a healthy bee industry in Texas.

Bill History:
In 2019, TBA attempted to update the sections of Chapter 131 dealing with permitting and registration of an apiary. TBA worked with various interested parties to reach a compromise bill that passed the Senate, but all bee related bills were left pending in the House Ag Committee. An Interim Charge was issued for the Ag Committee to study the bee bills from the 2019 session. TBA provided a report to the Ag Committee Chair as requested in 2020.
However, the Committee never filed a response to the Charge.
HB 4538 seeks to make some of the same revisions to permits that was agreed to in 2019, as well as updates to other sections of the Code addressed below.

Bill Analysis:
Definitions. Provides clearer and more accurate language for some of the defined terms.
Administrative. Updates administrative functions of the office.
“Reportable” Diseases. Requires the Chief Inspector to maintain a list of specific diseases and pests that must be reported.
Permits and Registration. Combines the import and export permits into one annual permit, making the permitting process simpler and more efficient for TAIS and migratory beekeepers.
Repeals the intrastate permit. Establishes a VOLUNTARY beekeeper registration to maintain the bee remover list and to offset the fees from repeal of the intrastate permit.
Identification of Hives. Simplifies and modernizes the identification of hives.