Several new Texas laws go into effect on September 1st

By Jennifer Whitlock
Field editor

A total of 666 laws passed during the 87th regular session of the Texas legislature will go into effect on September 1, the first official day of the state’s 2022 fiscal year and the 2022-2023 biennial budget cycle.

Of these, many are of importance to farmers, ranchers and rural jeans, according to Texas Farm Bureau (TFB) state legislative director Charlie Leal.

“It was a very intense regular session and we had a lot of organizational legislative priorities that allowed for progress,” Leal said. “There are several other priority issues that already came into force immediately after the governor’s signature or will come into force on January 1, 2022, but there are quite a few bills that will take effect on September 1 as well.” .

HB 365: Farm Animal Liability Act (FALA)
This bill extended the protection of liability to farmers and ranchers of their property for routine activities, such as the handling and management of farm animals.

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HB 1480: “The bill for agricultural rape”
HB 1480 creates a criminal offense for a person who damages, vandals, destroys or causes harm to an animal or a cultivation center.

“There are certain organizations with radically different beliefs about livestock and agriculture that may try to gain employment somewhere or enter private property in an attempt to let go of livestock or simply destroy things as a way to promote their cause, “Leal said. “Previously, there were no specific sanctions in Texas with respect to these actions outside the standard introduction-and-entry type law. But this creates a specific criminal offense and provides additional protection to farmers and ranchers who may be affected by these organizations or individuals “.

HB 2089: Detection, mitigation of crop pests, diseases
This bill creates an agreement between the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA), agricultural agents such as the TFB, and higher education institutions to research and improve the means and methods of identifying and treating crop pests and diseases. .

According to Leal, the best way to implement the agreement to help farmers and ranchers is being discussed.

HB 4107: Entry notice for surveys of eminent domains
“HB 4107 reinforces the requirements that an oil pipeline must meet before entering private land to conduct a survey,” Leal said. “This is one of the three bills related to the eminent domain that made us very excited to see it happen in this session. Together with HB 2730 and SB 271, this creates some real changes in the way eminent domain entities interact with private property owners and helps to place them on an equal footing. ”

Landlords must receive a notice at least two days in advance when a common carrier intends to examine their land and the notice must include accurate contact information of the entity in case the landlords have any question. Leal noted that it provides landowners with guarantees and notices when their property is subject to such surveys.

Owners can get a copy of the survey at no cost if they request it.

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SB 721: Dissemination of evaluation reports of eminent domains
According to SB 721, when a hearing of a special commissioner is convened, convicting entities must provide all appraisal reports to the commissioner’s court at least three days before the hearing.

“Landowners are already required to provide that same information, so that equals the playing field,” Leal said.

SB 725: Valuation of land as ag use after an eminent domain
This bill amends the Texas Tax Code for the agricultural use of a property affected by the conviction of the eminent domain.

Leal noted that land can still be eligible for agricultural use tax assessment even after the landlord was forced to stop using the property for agricultural use because of his conviction.

“This only applies if the owner continues to use the unaffected portions of land for ag use and the condemned right of way must be less than 200 feet wide. If the land does not meet the requirements for land valuation ‘use of the agency, the convicting entity must pay additional taxes and interest,’ Leal said.

SB 801: Creation of an ag education program for primary schools
This bill creates educational opportunities for Texas schoolchildren to learn about agriculture.

“This bill arose through a TFB member who is a high school student and has participated in our youth programs. Laura James, a senior this year at Flatonia High School, testified before the committee and helped pass this bill, ”he said. “SB 801 directs the Texas Education Agency to work with ADDs and nonprofits identified through ADD to create agricultural education for all Texas public elementary schools. It is very important to expose students who may not have direct access to agriculture, and now there will be a clear path to do so. “

SB 1245: survey of farms and livestock for taxation
SB 1245 will assist farmers, ranchers and landowners in requiring the Texas Public Accounts Controller to create and provide face-to-face and online instructions to complete the Texas Farm and Ranch Survey.

“The law requires the controller to develop agricultural productivity values ​​for qualified open space land rather than market value. They use the formula to send money to school districts, so it is a necessary thing,” he said. Loyal. ”But in the past it has not been clear how the survey should be filled out properly and it is possible that the local tax base has been affected. So now they have to offer some extra guidance so that it can be done properly. “

He added that this bill also required the controller to solicit public comments on the design and content of the survey before September 1st. TFB made contributions before the deadline.