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2017-05-04

Murr authors two bills aimed at protecting landowners

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Earlier this year, State Representative Andrew Murr filed House Bills 352 and 1471, two pieces of legislation aimed at protecting property owners in the Hill Country, South Texas, and West Texas. Those bills are now working their way through the legislative process, and Murr says he is hopeful that these common sense proposals will be well received by his colleagues in both the House and the Senate.
“In my mind, the right to own and use our property is one of the most sacred rights we have as Texans,” Murr said. “The legislature should do everything in its power to strengthen that right and ensure that it is never infringed upon."
House Bill 352, recently voted out of the House Natural Resources Committee, will give property owners a seat at the table along with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the General Land Office when it comes to determining if a waterway is considered "navigable." The distinction is critical since a navigable waterway belongs to the people of Texas, while a non-navigable waterway is considered private property.
The bill introduces due process into a system that is now completely at the discretion of Austin bureaucrats. Currently, TCEQ can "designate" a waterway as navigable, without any input from affected landowners. HB 352 would require TCEQ to host public meetings in order for the landowner and others in the area to testify before a decision is reached. Additionally, this bill would provide a mechanism for landowners to challenge TCEQ opinions on waterway navigability. "This bill will give landowners a fighting chance to keep their private property out of the hands of the state," Murr added.
House Bill 1471, which has been referred to the House Ways and Means Committee, will incentivize predator control amongst absentee Texas landowners who often see less urgency in controlling predators on their property, resulting in unintended safe havens for feral hogs, coyotes, bobcats and other predators that impact surrounding property owners.
Under the current law, a landowner must fulfill three of seven criteria which foster a “wildlife friendly” environment to qualify for a reduced property appraisal for wildlife management use. Predator control is one of the seven criteria. HB 1471 would make membership in a qualified predation management organization, commonly known as a “trapping club,” an automatic qualification for the predator control portion of the wildlife management plan. The hope is that this will bring more landowners into trapping clubs and the community effort will help curb populations of harmful predators, especially feral hogs.
Murr explained, "Managing predator populations, especially the feral hog population, is vital to Texas landowners trying to make a successful living off the land. Our deer population and the multi-billion dollar hunting industry in Texas are also directly affected by predators. HB 1471 will make predation management more effective for all Texans."
Please call Rep. Murr's Austin office at (512) 463-0536 for updates on these bills or if you would be interested in testifying as to their potential positive impact on our state.