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Relating to the regulation of oyster harvesting; increasing a criminal penalty.
No significant fiscal implication to the State is anticipated.
HB 2321 would increase the criminal penalty for illegal oyster harvesting under certain conditions. A person would commit a Class A Parks and Wildlife Code misdemeanor if they violate prohibitions against harvesting oysters from a restricted area and the prohibition against night dredging in the same criminal episode. It would also add that an offense related to oyster size or harvest from a closed area is a Class B Parks and Wildlife Code misdemeanor if it is shown at trial that the defendant has previously been convicted at least twice of either of these offenses.
Also, it would be a Class B Parks and Wildlife Code misdemeanor, rather than a Class C, if the defendant was in possession of a cargo of oysters in which 30 percent or more of the oysters measured less than three inches in length or an offense related to the harvest of oysters from a closed area. It also makes several other changes to offenses relating to the illegal harvesting of oysters in a closed area.
Texas Action remains neutral on HB 2321 because it does not affect our liberty principles. These enhanced penalties seem to close a loophole under current law and proportionately punish repeat offenders, who would otherwise continue to violate these provisions as simply a cost of doing business.