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84th Legislative Session Summary

June 21, 2015
TDA Staff


The Texas Deer Association leads the way as the largest organization in the state dedicated to protecting the rights of both the landowner and the hunter.  During the 84th Legislative session, the TDA was represented by the Executive Committee (led by President Chase Clark), the Legislative/Regulatory Committee (chaired by Marty Berry), the Austin Legislative Team (Ron Lewis, TDA lobbyist; Hugo Berlanga, TDA member & Legislative Session lobbyist; Ceci Wallace, TDA Director of Governmental Relations; TDA Legislative Intern, James Laughlin and, last but not least, scores of TDA members and their families who came to Austin as part of the TDA Round-Up Days). 

The TDA filed no bills but succeeded in defeating bills that would have mandated “spring release” only, required external RFID tags, and formed a highly politicized “deer commission” made up of a majority of anti-deer industry individuals charged to “study and make recommendations regarding deer management practices for both white-tailed and mule deer.”

2015 Facts & Figures

  • January 13 – 84th Legislature convened
  • January 20 – Newly elected Governor Greg Abbott and Lt. Governor Dan Patrick sworn into office
  • February 16— At the request of the TAHC and TDA Legislative leadership, we delivered a letter to each member of the House Appropriations Committee (Subcommittee on Articles VI, VII & VIII) and Senate Finance Committee in support of the TAHC request for exceptional item funding for border security & animal health ($4.6 million) and agency continuity & modernization ($1.6 million), as well as supplemental funding (HB 2)($800K) for ongoing cattle fever tick, tuberculosis in dairy cattle, and other emerging animal diseases.
  • 6,276 bills were filed in the Senate and House, of which more than 1,323 were passed.
  • Three bills that were filed directly impacted our deer industry:
    • March 5HB 2471 (Kacal) relating to the period during which breeder deer may be transferred for release, was filed.  In filing this bill, Rep Kacal stated “this bill, House Bill 2471 (HB 2471), is not the perfect solution to this issue, however, it serves as a placeholder in the legislative process so that we may continue to have productive discussion with stakeholders while waiting for the results of TDA’s drug residue study.  Since the beginning of our conversations, I have given my word that this bill will not move forward through the legislative process without an agreed upon substitute from all stakeholders.  I want to thank TDA and its senior leadership for their participation in this process and I look forward to our continued relationship.”  True to his word, Rep. Kacal did not move this bill, as TDA’s drug residue study results had not been released.
    • March 12HB 3271 (Guillen), relating to the creation of a deer management program commission, and HB 3272 (Guillen), relating to the identification of breeder deer, were filed.  After meetings between members of the TDA and the TWA did not produce a compromise, these bills did not move forward.
  • 31 additional bills were monitored for potential amendments (affecting the deer industry) in the Senate and House.
  • 100+ — Number of TDA member visits to legislators during the TDA Round-Up Days
  • Six bills received the support (either through direct testimony or sign-in “FOR”) of the TDA, as an advocate for wise hunting and wildlife management practices and private property rights:
    • SJR 22 (Creighton) and its companion, HJR 61 (Ashby), proposing a constitutional amendment relating to the right to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife.  This proposal will go before the Texas voters in November 2015.
    • SB 474 (Kolkhorst), relating to recovery of costs and fees in connection with certain eminent domain proceedings.  This bill passed the Senate and was left pending in House committee.
    • HB 2119 (Lozano), relating to charitable organizations, including charitable organizations that may conduct prescribed burning.  This bill becomes effective September 1, 2015.
    • HB 2595 (Keffer), relating to the use of municipal initiative and referendum to restrict property rights.  This bill passed the House and was left pending in Senate committee.
    • HB 3057 (Murr), relating to the creation of a pilot program for the purpose of controlling certain predatory animals.  This bill passed the House and was referred to Senate committee but was not heard.
    • HB 4064 (White), relating to restrictions applicable to young hunters of white-tailed deer during a special open season.  This bill was left pending in House committee.
  • June 1 – Sine Die (End of the 84th Legislative Session)

Special Thanks To!!

  • President Chase Clark, Legislative/Regulatory Committee Chairman Marty Berry; TDA Lobbyists Ron Lewis and Hugo Berlanga; TDA Legislative Intern, James Laughlin; and the TDA members and families who, under some very unpleasant weather conditions at times, took the time out of their busy schedules to travel to Austin and meet with legislators.  Special recognition should go to Carrie Collard who worked tirelessly to get TDA members to the Capitol. Amy Clark also crafted the very important, and effective, “Talking Points” for our meetings with legislators throughout the session.
  • Amy Clark (TDA marketing volunteer) and Dave Heltzel (Cross Timbers Marketing) for taking a few ideas for legislative talking points and created an impressive and informative TDA brochure to handout to legislators and their staff
  • Dave Boisvert (Cross Timbers Marketing) for taking another idea about a distinctive TDA lapel pin and created a one-of-a-kind Texas flag deer head pin that became the envy of the Capitol, worn proudly by TDA members, legislators/legislative staff, the Capitol Cafeteria check-out people and the DPS Security check-in team.  TDA was easily identifiable wearing those pins as they walked the halls of the Capitol. 

Moving Forward

This Legislative Session is over, but we face continual threats from opponents who want to impose their agendas on landowners and deer managers, like never before!  To succeed in our efforts at the Capitol in Austin, we must continue to:

  • Grow our TDA Political Action Committee – The TDA PAC has allowed us to affect legislation and impact regulations relating to the deer industry.  We MUST continue to elect and support legislators who support our industry.  THE TDA PAC was formed to protect YOU!
  • Develop relationships with our elected state legislators – educating them and putting a face on our industry starts and ends with you, the families and voters in their district.  Their knowledge of our industry is our biggest asset.
  • Educate people on the importance of the deer industry through our pro-active marketing and public relations efforts.

Pursue best practices for land management and wildlife management based on scientific evidence, while conducting those practices with integrity.