We as consumers heard that funding for Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) programs which support the Texas wine industry was going to be cut. We had a request to write to our state representatives and senators, and educate them how important the funds are to the Texas wine industry.
I wrote to a senator and a representative, and surprisingly got a quick response from my representative Patricia Harless. Here is the letter I wrote:
Dear Rep. Harless,
I have heard some disturbing news that the funding for Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) programs which support important and much needed programs for the Texas wine industry may be cut. This is a travesty considering how Texas has grown into the 5th largest wine producing state and the billions of dollars the wine industry makes for the state of Texas. My girlfriend and I have spent over the past year visiting over 90 Texas wineries which means we have spent many dollars in gas, hotels, and the support itself of the wineries. To better educate yourself about what the Texas wine industry does for the state of Texas, I hope you take the time to read the latest blog post from Russ Kane which explains the situation: http://vintagetexas.com/blog/?p=4669
Thank you and let’s keep the income from the wine industry coming into Texas!
This is the reply I received:
Dear Mr. Cope,
Thank you for your email regarding the level of funding for the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) programs supporting the Texas wine industry. I appreciate you taking the time to keep me informed of your concerns on this important issue. I agree that Texas wineries are an important and valuable part of our state for many reasons.
With Texas facing a $27 billion deficit this legislative session, sadly there will be cuts to every agency. However, I will keep your comments in mind as HB 3289, relating to the expenditure of certain wine related revenue, is considered in the Licensing & Administrative Procedures Committee and public testimony is heard tomorrow, April 19. If you are interested in tracking this bill or any other legislation, please log on to www.capitol.state.tx.us http://www.capitol.state.tx.us for more information.
Thank you again for contacting me. I always appreciate hearing from my constituents, and I am grateful for you letting me know your thoughts. Please feel free to contact my office if you have further questions about this or any other matter.
On May 13, I received an email from Representative Harless to people on her distribution list and it started like this:
It was a critical week in the Texas House, as we worked at a feverish pace to get bills passed before Thursday’s midnight deadline. Yesterday was the last day House Bills could be considered on the Major State or General House Calendar. The focus in the House now shifts to Senate bills and conference committee reports resolving differences between House and Senate versions of bills.
She then explained summary information on legislation being debated. Missing was anything about HB 3289. I wrote to her asking about that and got this reply.
Dear Mr. Cope,
I am glad you like the update. HB 3289 was discussed in a public hearing of the Licensing and Administrative Procedures Committee on April 19th, but unfortunately a vote was never taken on the measure and the deadline to pass House Bills has now expired. To look up any bill and follow it through the legislative process, you can go to www.capitol.state.tx.us http://www.capitol.state.tx.us.
Thank you for contacting me. I always appreciate hearing from my constituents and hope this information is helpful. Please feel free to contact me on this or any other matter.
If you look up the bill on the state website (HB 3289 link), you will find it indeed was discussed on April 19th and then “left pending in committee.” So bottom line, they talked about it and then never discussed or voted on it, so it died. And in the aftermath of the non-action, the wine marketing budget was cut, pink slips were handed out, and hopefully the state of the Texas wine industry does not suffer too much.
Update: A new email was received from Representative Harless on May 26. It confirmed what was said above:
All Senate bills not previously considered by the House prior to May 24th at midnight are no longer be eligible for consideration this session, meaning the bills are dead.