HB 1768 VETOED! Gov. Perry Doesn’t Get It

HB 1768: VETOED! Gov. Perry Doesn’t Get It. June 17, 2011

HB 1768 addresses the roadside sale of goods and animals. It is actually not new law, but tweaks existing law in two ways. Currently, counties with a population of more than 1.3 million people can regulate the sale of animals in parking lots and roadside. There are four counties with that many people–Harris, Bexar, Dallas and Tarrant. All of these counties enacted laws that regulate the sale of animals roadside or in parking lots as per Section 285.001 of the Transportation Code. This law was enacted in 2007.

HB 1768 sought to give that power to more counties by lowering the population requirement down to counties having more than 450,000 people. It also added a provision that the law could not restrict the sale of livestock except in counties with a population of at least 3.3 million is Harris County, only. Keep in mind that dogs and cats are not livestock.

Today, June 17, 2011, Governor Perry vetoed HB 1768 and stated these objections in his formal veto of the bill:

“House Bill 1768 would encroach upon the rights of private enterprise and property owners while fundamentally altering and expanding the role of county government. House Bill 1768 would allow the commissioners court of a county with a population of 450,000 or more to regulate vendors in the right-of-way of a public road or highway, and in a parking lot.
It would be unfortunate if, through regulation, we unintentionally prevented, for example, the owner of a peach orchard with baskets of fruit or a Girl Scout troop with cartons of cookies from reaching their consumers. As a state, we should not raise barriers of entry into the marketplace, stifle competition or hinder the entrepreneurial spirit.”

Governor Perry obviously does not realize that this is the law already and HB 1768 was merely allowing more counties to prevent the sale of puppies and kittens in parking lots and along the road. He apparently does not know that the Girl Scouts in Harris, Bexar, Dallas and Tarrant counties have not been negatively impacted by preventing the sale of puppies and kittens alongside the road. I am not sure what peaches and Girl Scout cookies have to do with dogs and cats, but the counties listed above seem to be clever enough not to ruin peach and cookie sales while outlawing the practice of selling dogs and cats on the side of the road.

Governor Perry goes on to say:
“Because I appreciate the goal of House Bill 1768 to protect the health and safety of the public on our roadways, I am directing the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Texas Department of Transportation to work together with county governments to assist them in fully utilizing the existing tools at their disposal to balance public safety and free enterprise.”

Nope. Wrong again. The legislative history behind this law is to prevent unscrupulous people from selling puppies and kittens roadside. These animals often do not have vaccinations, have not been bred with care and many are sick. As an attorney, I have fielded many calls from folks who innocently bought cute puppies and kittens not knowing any better only to have their hearts broken when they got sick and died. Responsible breeders do not sell their animals in this fashion so it is perplexing to me why the legislature would pass a rather strict breeder bill, but then turn around and tacitly support the selling practices of irresponsible breeders.

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