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Local Food Bills That Died (including the Raw Milk Bill)

Updated June 25, 2013

The legislative process is set up to make it difficult to pass bills, especially grassroots bills. From the beginning, we knew that the majority of our bills would most likely not make it all the way through, although we had no way of predicting which.

Four of our bills made it through the substantive committees, either Public Health or Agriculture, but then died in the Calendars Committee without being scheduled for a vote of the full House. The Calendars Committee is always a difficult hurdle; this session, however, Calendars became notorious throughout the Capitol for killing hundreds of bills, scheduling far fewer than usual for votes by the House.

Grade A Farm Fresh Raw Milk

HB 46, the raw milk bill, was the most controversial of all our bills this session, yet again. The bill would have improved access to raw milk by allowing licensed farmers to sell raw milk directly to consumers at farmers markets and consumers’ residences. Like last session, we faced staunch opposition not only from the Texas Dairymen’s Association, but also from the far more powerful Texas Retailers’ Association and the Texas Medical Association. While medical associations across the country disapprove of raw milk, Texas appears to be unique in the fact that our medical association makes lobbying against raw milk a high priority.

Thanks to the growing, organized grassroots support for raw milk, we were nonetheless able to get the bill approved by the Public Health Committee with a strong 9-2 vote. The bill’s sponsor was told that the bill would get a vote on the floor of the House, and we believe we had the votes to pass it. But it got stalled in Calendars. All of the Calendars Committee discussions are done behind closed doors, so we cannot be certain about who bears the responsibility for killing this bill. We do have good reason to believe, however, that Sarah Davis of Houston played a key role. Houstonites should demand an explanation!

As disappointing as it is to lose the raw milk bill a second time, it is important to note that we made progress. Last session, the bill never made it out of the Public Health Committee – this time, it did. Each time we take a step forward, we build more strength and come closer to success in the next round.

Click here to read about the other local food bills during the 2013 Texas legislative session.

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