HELPING KEEP TEXAS CLEAN
Texas Heritage Protection's main interest is advocating for a cleaner, trash-free Texas. Many of our advocacy efforts focus on litter prevention and mitigation, but with an emphasis on enacting policies that promote a thriving community and economy. All of our advocacy work is done with conservative principles in mind because we do not believe that clean necessarily means costly.
Our advocacy efforts are steered by many of Russell Kirk's Principles of Conservatism — the sanctity of property rights; the importance of prudence in politics and passions; the knowledge that government is imperfect; the existence of a moral order; the preference given to voluntary community instead of involuntary collectivism; and that permanence and progress are the two opposing forces that create a great society.
Texas's Litter Problem
Texas is home of one of the most famous anti-litter campaigns, "Don't Mess With Texas." A message that resonated with generations, this famous anti-littering campaign inspired Texans to reduce roadside litter to a considerable degree in the 80s and 90s. However, as our state increasingly becomes home to many non-natives — and the phrase "Don't Mess With Texas" is now licensed out to promote state pride instead of solely anti-litter — the effectiveness of past litter mitigation efforts have faded.
According to the Texas Department of Transportation's own survey, litter along county roads have grown by 81 percent from 2009 to 2013. County roads, aka farm-to-market roads, are by far the majority of roads in Texas. There is an estimated total of 954 million littered items along our farm-to-market roadways and 1.4 billion total littered items along all of our roadways. Suddenly, Texas doesn't seem so clean, does it?
But litter isn't stagnant. These, and other uncounted pieces of litter, make their way onto our fields and into waterways, taking up valuable water storage space and causing harm to cattle and other animals. Texas lawmakers are currently discussing how to better approach wind and waterborne litter, as well as ways to continue the fight against roadside litter.
Texas's Scrap Tire Problem
Recently, you may have seen some public service announcements or youtube videos talking about the potential dangers of a Zika outbreak in Texas. But did you know illegally dumped scrap tires can provide breeding grounds for countless numbers of mosquitoes carrying Zika?
Large stacks of tires, some made up of more than one million scrap tires, are littered across the state. Officials counted more than 14 million tires scattered in pile along Texas in 2016, with a significant portion located in the coastal and southern areas of the Texas. These discarded tires are the result of a broken disposal process at the state and local level.
Not only do scrap tires provide breeding grounds for disease-carrying mosquitoes, but they also pose extreme fire risks for nearby communities that could potentially threaten water supplies and air quality. Tires are a perfect example of political inefficiency. Small tweaks to state policy could drastically reduce the number of tires in our state, but special interest groups often get in the way of that occurring
Legislation We Supported
Staff at THP advocated for several bills in Texas 85th Legislative Session. They include:
House Bill 1884, filed by Representative Charles "Doc" Anderson, R-Waco. (PASSED)
This bill relates to penalties for certain littering offenses. It provides a judge the option to give a convitcted litterer up to 60 hours of community service to be spent picking up litter or assisting in a recycling community within his county of residence. We believe this measure will help deter repeat offenders and provide a just punishment to fit an often overlooked crime.
House Bill 2140, filed by Representative Ryan Guillen, D- Rio Grand City. (LEFT PENDING IN COMMITTEE)
This bill relates to the creation of an advisory panel to study and compile a report on best management practices and funding mechanisms for the prevention, mitigation, and abatement of windblown and waterborne litter and illegal dumping in communities. We believe this measure will help reduce government inefficiencies (and duplicities) by bringing together many of the local and state entities whose are charged with combating litter and illegal dumping.
House Bill 1437, filed by Representative Gene Wu, D - Houston. (LEFT PENDING IN COMMITTEE)
This bill relates to the use of funding in the local initiative projects for litter reduction. It would pull from existing funding to help provide overtime for local law enforcement to stakeout area "hot spots" that commonly see large scale litter and illegal dumping, enabling law enforcement to catch bad actors.
Senate Bil 570, filed by Senator José Rodríguez, D - El Paso. (VETOED BY THE GOVERNOR)
This bill relates to the regulation of the retention, storage, transportation, disposal, processing and reuse of used or scrap tires. We believe this measure is long overdue as Texas's scrap tire disposal process continues to malfunction and the backlog continues to grow. Simple fixes like requiring tire stores to keep stock under lock-and-key can prevent theft and subsequent illegal disposals in river, streams, and on vacant property.