Texas Gets It
This past week our State Legislature was half finished with the Budget Session. Along with setting the state budget for the next two years, they also had to deal with around 160 introduced bills that took a two-thirds majority vote to go forward.
On the whole, they have done an excellent job so far, as usual. The one snag last week was when a few legislators got off course on a House Bill that would establish a task force to consider what the state should do if the federal government collapsed. Some thought the bill was good planning in light of our country’s economic mess, and the potential for four more years of planned socialism if the current administration is elected again. Good intentions, but then an off-the-wall amendment was added that would enable the state to buy a aircraft carrier and strike aircraft, raise a standing army and have its own military draft. HB 85 was voted down 30 to 27 in a final House vote. That’s a close vote, so the “doomsday bill” did have some merit, and it did bring attention to the fact that, if we don’t change course with our national economics and politics, we could go down the tube, and the news media around the state had fun with it. I just wish the bill had included some wording about establishing a cavalry so we could have sold the state some horses.
A couple of other bills that got agriculture’s attention that were also voted down were SF 53, the Public Land Access Bill. I’m sure Senator Scott from Natrona County had good intentions, but, to many of us in agriculture, that was the worst bill to come up this session, as it compromised our private land rights.
The other bill, which was a good one, was SF 64. This bill, sponsored by Senator Hines, stated that a person is presumed to know that he is not authorized to travel off of a public roadway onto rural land or premises without permission of the landowner, and is therefore in criminal trespass. Senator Hines, a rancher from Campbell County, most likely has had some instances with public trespass, as has almost everyone who is a rural landowner. As we all know, a good number of hunters and recreationists have always trespassed and, when caught, pleaded ignorance or asked forgiveness or have just got away with the crime.
Trespass on private lands is a crime on which Wyoming, for the most part, has been lenient to the guilty involved. How many times have we taken a continuous trespasser to court and, in the end, the judge has only fined them $100 or given them a slap on the wrist?
The state of Texas gets it. Its citizens are taught from birth that one just doesn’t go on another’s private lands without permission. Along with voting, private property rights are a sacred right in that state. Texans know that “freedom is the right to be wrong, not the right to do wrong.”
I never thought I would ever say “we should do as a Texan does,” but they are “right on” on this issue.