We have been hard at work in partnership with the Legislative Lawyering Clinic on changes to bee law in Texas. We would like to share with you the latest update regarding where we are, and what we are proposing. We also want to note that what we propose to legislators is not necessarily the final proposal that will be submitted. Legislators frequently make changes during review after a bill has been submitted.
The Bee Law Update document linked below outlines the major changes we are proposing, and shows the current bee law, and the changes we plan to propose regarding the intrastate permit. An underline indicates an addition to the law, a strikethrough indicates a deletion from the law.
In case you don’t have the time to read through the linked document, here are the highlights:
1. We propose simplifying the permit process for beekeepers. Beekeepers will only need 1 annual permit for any and all import & export of bees and equipment, rather than the many currently required each year. There are no additional requirements imposed on the beekeeper with the suggested changes. These changes will greatly simplify the permitting process for both the beekeeper and TAIS, while providing the necessary safeguards for the industry.
2. Section 131.043 will be repealed. There is broad consensus for repeal of the Intrastate Permit. Two bills have been filed this session by non TBA groups that repeal Section 131.043. TBA’s proposed bill language for repeal of this section does not conflict with either of those bills. However, several consequences arise related to exclusively repealing 131.043, which is why we are proposing some additional changes, outlined below.
3. Fees currently generated from the Intrastate Permit, that we are proposing to eliminate, represent approximately 25%-30% of the revenue generated by TAIS. These fees go into the State of Texas general fund. The elimination of that large of a percentage of a state agencies budget will create an issue for some legislators that may hinder passage of a repeal. Additionally, there is no other avenue currently available to TAIS to maintain an updated bee removal list. Given the widespread use of this bee removal list, it is important to maintain this service. Mitigation of both issues is addressed below.
4. Under our proposal, beekeepers may voluntarily register with TAIS if they choose. For those that choose to register, and remove bees, TAIS would continue to publish their information to the master bee removal list. Early assessment is that the registration fee would be less than the fee was for the Intrastate Permit.
5. Benefits of a voluntary beekeeper registry have been discussed for some time. This was thoroughly reviewed in discussions related to pollinator protection plans several years ago. Legislation is expected to be introduced this session that would require pesticide applicators to notify registered beekeepers with respect to applications of neonicotinoids within a certain radius. Measures like this have been passed in other states. Whether this bill will pass this session is uncertain, but it is likely that at some point, Texas beekeepers will benefit by having the infrastructure in place to maintain an updated registry of beekeepers.
-TBA Legislative Team