Several weeks ago, we informed our readers
about Rep. Dade Phelan’s bill, HB1260, to create an occupational license and subsequent fee to allow out-of-state companies to unload shrimp boats in Texas. That bill has now passed the House, but not without a fight on the floor.
As usual, the chief antagonist was Rep. Jonathan Stickland, who sicced his 15,000 Facebook supporters on Phelan in a last-ditch effort to kill the bill.
Stickland made three attempts to amend the bill on the House floor to fix the problems he saw with it – namely, the license and fee.
In the layout of the bill, Phelan pointed out that current state law prohibits out-of-state shrimpers to unload their catch in Texas, and restricts that right to Texas shrimpers only. His bill does not effect in-state shrimpers, and would allow out-of-state companies to enter the market. He argued it would bring millions of dollars to Texas and lower the cost of shrimp.
Stickland agreed with the premise that out-of-state companies should be allowed to enter the market, but he did not believe that anyone, local or foreign, should have to pay a fee or obtain a license from the government to operate this business.
This echoes his position on the ride-sharing bill, in which he brought amendments to strike out licenses and fees, and proclaimed, “I come on behalf of the free-market!”
During debate on his first amendment, which eliminated the license and fee completely, Stickland pressed Phelan to oppose the “heavy hand of government” and asked him to support the Republican Party platform which calls for a reduction in occupational licenses.
Pheland countered that the fees collected under this code are important because they are used to promote the Texas shrimp industry.
All three of Stickland’s amendments failed and the bill passed.
HB 1260 is now headed to the Senate.
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