C.S.H.B. 556
By: Bob Turner
Committee Report (Substituted)


Under Section 30.05, Texas Penal Code, all trespass cases
including minor offenses must be cited as a Class B misdemeanor
offense punishable by a fine up to $2,000 and/or a jail term up
to 180 days, or a Class A misdemeanor punishable by a fine up to
$4,000 and/or a jail term up to one year if committed in a
habitation or while carrying a deadly weapon. In rural areas
these offenses, many of them minor, must be heard in a County
Court, presided over by the County Judge, and prosecuted by the
County Attorney.  A county must invest much time, effort, and
money to prosecute these offenses, which often involve bringing
back the accused from some faraway area for prosecution.  To
avoid expense and inconvenience, these cases are more often than
not dismissed, leaving many rural landowners concerned.
Establishment of a Class C misdemeanor offense punishable by a
fine up to $500 for trespass on agricultural land, would allow
these cases to be heard in a Justice or Municipal Court and thus,
the number of cases enforced would likely increase.


This legislation creates a Class C misdemeanor for the criminal
offense of trespass on agricultural lands. 


It is the committee's opinion that this bill does not expressly
grant any additional rulemaking authority to a state officer,
department, agency, or institution.


SECTION 1.  Amends Section 30.05(b), Penal Code, by adding
Subdivision 4.  Defines "Agricultural Land" as land located in
the state that is suitable for use in forestry, animal production
or plant production (including floriculture, viticulture,
horticulture and planting seed.)

SECTION 2.  Amends Section 30.05, Penal Code.  Creates the Class
C misdemeanor Criminal Trespass offense for those people who
without the owner's consent:
     (1) enter agricultural land, 
     (2) are within 100 feet of the boundary of the land when
apprehended, and 
     (3) had notice that the entry was forbidden or received
notice to depart but failed to do  so.  
Establishes that the offense is a Class A misdemeanor if the
person carries a deadly weapon while committing this infraction.
SECTION 3.  This Act applies only to an offense committed on or
after the effective date of this Act.

SECTION 4.  Effective Date.  The effective date of this bill is
September 1, 1995.

SECTION 5.  Emergency clause.

The original legislation provided special circumstances for which
certain persons could enter another person's adjoining property
without the owner's consent and not be charged with trespassing.
The substitute for H.B. 556 does not provide any provisions to
exempt a person from this trespass legislation. 


H.B. 556 was considered in a public hearing on Tuesday, February
21, 1995.

The following people testified in support of the bill:

     Mr. Arthur Nagel, representing Riverside and Landowners
Protection Coalition, Inc.

     Mr. Ed Small, representing Texas and Southwestern Cattle
Raisers Association.

     Ms. Deborah Mitchell, representing the Texas Wildlife

     Mr. Charles Carter, representing the Independent Cattlemen's
Association of Texas.

     Mr. Tommy Engelke, representing the Texas Agricultural
Cooperative Council.

The bill was referred to a subcommittee consisting of
Representatives Hawley (Chair), King and Rabuck.

After being recalled from the subcommittee, the bill was
considered by the committee in a public hearing on Tuesday,
February 28, 1995.

The committee considered a complete substitute for the bill. The
substitute was adopted without objection.

The bill was reported favorably as substituted, with the
recommendation that it do pass and be printed, by a record vote
of 8 ayes, 0 nays, 0 pnv, 1 absent.