East Texas Ag News: New laws to benefit rural landowners in Texas

Published: Oct. 13, 2023 at 1:52 PM CDT
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ANGELINA COUNTY, Texas (KTRE) - As every good citizen in Texas knows, the Texas Legislature meets every odd numbered year starting on the second Tuesday in January. This legislative body meets for 140 days during their regular session during which time the state’s budget gets set and the bulk of the state’s work is done.

Of special note to numerous agricultural and rural landowners, this past session the 88th Texas Legislature passed many bills with direct positive impacts on agriculture and rural Texas.

While I’ll name the bills passed below, a comprehensive discussion on each one will be held at the Angelina County Extension office on Tuesday, Oct. 17. This meeting is a co-hosted by the Texas & Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association (TSCRA). The TSCRA’s Executive Director for Government Relations, Melissa Hamilton, will be the featured speaker.

Hamilton will first discuss landowner liability. House Bill 73, authored by Representative Andrew Murr in the Texas House of Representatives and sponsored by Senator Drew Springer in the Texas Senate, provides additional protections for landowners by exempting them from liability when damage is caused by sources outside of their control. Additional details about these new protections for landowners will be discussed at the meeting.

The most popular new law for many local producers was House Bill 2308, the Right to Farm Bill. This was authored by our own representative, Trent Ashby, in the House of Representatives and sponsored by Senator Charles Perry in the Texas Senate. It’s a pretty extensive bill in that it added substantial new protections for ag operations across the state. Hamilton will discuss those new protections for agriculture during her presentation.

House Bill 1750, authored by Representative DeWayne Burns in the Texas House of Representatives and sponsored by Senator Charles Perry in the Texas Senate, compliments House Bill 2308. House Bill 1750 helps agricultural operations near urban areas by protecting them from unwarranted city and municipal regulations.

Senate Bill 664, authored by Senator Charles Perry in the Texas Senate and sponsored by Representative Brad Buckley in the Texas House of Representatives, creates some labeling requirements for alternative protein and cell cultured products. If you are not aware of some of the new cell cultured products and issues surrounding the alternative protein market, you will want to come learn about them.

While that may cover the bills which were passed, I trust almost everyone has heard about the propositions that will be on the ballot on Nov. 7. Three in particular impact Texas agriculture.

Proposition 1 on the ballot in November creates a constitutional right in the Texas Constitution to farm and ranch in Texas.

Proposition 6 creates a Texas water fund to repair and update our water infrastructure in the state.

Lastly, Proposition 8 creates a highspeed broadband fund to help ensure rural parts of the state, and the whole state, have access to highspeed broadband internet services.

Hamilton will discuss the three propositions affecting agriculture and rural Texas in greater detail on Tuesday.

Our guest speaker, Melissa Hamilton, previously served as public counsel for the Office of Public Insurance Counsel since being appointed by Governor Greg Abbott in 2017 and later confirmed by the Texas Senate. She also served as staff counsel for then Texas State Senator, now Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, Glenn Hegar, and later as director of government relations for the Texas Department of Insurance. Melissa received her undergraduate degree from Texas A&M University and received her law degree from the University of Texas.

There is no fee to attend. This seminar will be at the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service in Lufkin at 2201 S. Medford Drive. The meeting will start at 6 p.m.


Cary Sims is the County Extension Agent for agriculture and natural resources for Angelina County. His email address is cw-sims@tamu.edu.