By Robert McKnight
On Jan. 13, the 84th session of the Texas Legislature is kicking off in Austin. The state House and Senate are welcoming back many seasoned legislators, but also adding many freshmen to the halls of the Capitol.
The Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association(TSCRA) is looking forward to being on the ground working at the state Capitol to make sure cattle raisers and landowners are properly represented.
In past legislative sessions, TSCRA has secured notable accomplishments. We have worked to pass legislation to secure landowners’ private property rights, track animal health issues and strengthen cattle theft laws.
We have also worked hand-in-hand with other agricultural and landowner groups to prevent legislation from passing that would not be good for ranchers and landowners.
TSCRA has been actively monitoring issues that could come up in this session, as well as meeting new members and their staff and staying in contact with ones we have worked with in the past.
We expect to be busy interacting with legislators and keeping an eye on bills that could affect our stewards of land and livestock.
Some say water may not be an issue this session; however, TSCRA believes this important resource will be a major topic not only this session, but for ones to come. As Texas continues to struggle with drought conditions and the need for water grows in our state, some groundwater ownership issues could come up.
TSCRA staunchly believes groundwater is groundwater. If a water resource lies beneath your property, you own it. TSCRA will be active in water rights and ownership issues during this session.
TSCRA will also be engaged should any eminent domain related legislation be filed. We will do whatever it takes to make sure landowners are treated fairly when an entity uses the power of eminent domain to claim land for public use.
Finally, TSCRA will be watching as many other issues important to cattle raisers and landowners come up, and the association will not hesitate to work with legislators to have legislation filed if needed.
In the past TSCRA members have been instrumental in making us aware of critical issues and providing a strong voice over at the Capitol. In fact, last session it was TSCRA members who made hundreds of phone calls opposing legislation that would have made it easier for oil and gas pipeline companies to condemn land while limiting the rights of landowners.
We will need this same amount of attentiveness during the 84th session.
TSCRA appreciates everything our members have done to help us accomplish legislative victories in the past, and we know many more achievements will be made in 2015 and years to come.
We look forward to this session and working with all involved to make the 84th legislative session a success for cattle raisers and landowners in Texas.
Robert McKnight, Second Vice President, Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association