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No significant fiscal implication to the State.
A Class A misdemeanor is punishable by a fine of not more than $4,000,
confinement in jail for a term not to exceed one year, or both. A Class B
misdemeanor is punishable by a fine of not more than $2,000,
confinement in jail for a term not to exceed 180 days, or both. A Class C
misdemeanor is punishable by a fine of not more than $500.
Costs associated with enforcement, prosecution and confinement could likely be absorbed within existing resources. Revenue gain from fines imposed and collected is not anticipated to have a significant fiscal implication.
HB 2556 amends the Health and Safety Code to establish that conduct in violation of a rule adopted under Texas Clean Air Act provisions relating to outdoor burning of waste and combustible material that also violates a municipal ordinance may be prosecuted only under the municipal ordinance. The violation would be required to not be a second or subsequent violation of such a rule or a municipal ordinance and the violation cannot involve the burning of heavy oils, asphaltic materials, potentially explosive materials, or chemical wastes.
The bill would change a violation of burning tires, insulation on electrical wire or cable, treated lumber,
plastics, non-wood construction or demolition materials, furniture, carpet,
and items containing natural or synthetic rubber from a Class A misdemeanor to a Class C misdemeanor if it is the first violation. A second or subsequent violation would be a Class B or Class misdemeanor, depending on whether any of the prior violations involved the burning of tires,
insulation on electrical wire or cable, treated lumber, plastics, non-wood
construction or demolition materials, furniture, carpet, items containing
natural or synthetic rubber, heavy oils, asphaltic materials, potentially
explosive materials, or chemical wastes.
This bill affirms the principle of limited government by clarifying law and changing the penalty for a specific violation to a penalty more appropriate for the offense. First, the bill provides that a violation of burning banned substances would be only prosecuted under a municipal ordinance, even if the offense violates a rule under the Texas Clean Air Act provisions. This allows for better clarify on who is prosecuting the offense and provides local discretion.
While burning certain substances can be harmful, this violation does not warrant a year of jail time. Hypothetically, an individual may unknowingly burn trash that contains some of these substances. For first time violators, this bill would mandate a Class C Misdemeanor, which is only a $500 fine. For subsequent violators, the bill would allow for judicial discretion on whether the offense should constitute a Class B misdemeanor or Class A misdemeanor.
For providing clarity and reducing overcriminalization, we support HB 2556.