HBA-RBT H.B. 690 76(R) BILL ANALYSIS Office of House Bill AnalysisH.B. 690 By: Wohlgemuth Agriculture & Livestock 3/2/1999 Introduced BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE Barbed wire fence cutting has developed into a serious problem in several rural areas of Texas. When a fence is cut, livestock can escape, endangering its own life and possibly the lives of passing motorists. In the past, the penalty for cutting a fence was a third degree felony. With the rewrite of the state Penal Code in 1993, the penalty was reduced to a Class C misdemeanor in most cases. The code's current reliance on pecuniary loss to establish the level of the offense does not take into account potential loss of property or human life in the instance of fence cutting. Police and prosecutors may be more apt to seek out and punish offenders if a higher penalty is available for this offense. H.B. 690 increases the penalty for criminal mischief to a state jail felony if the amount of pecuniary loss is less than $1,500 and the property was a fence used for the production of cattle, horses, sheep, swine, or goats. RULEMAKING AUTHORITY It is the opinion of the Office of House Bill Analysis that this bill does not expressly delegate any additional rulemaking authority to a state officer, department, agency, or institution. SECTION BY SECTION ANALYSIS SECTION 1. Amends Section 28.03(b), Penal Code, to make criminal mischief a state jail felony if the amount of pecuniary loss is less than $1,500 and the property was a fence used for the production of cattle, horses, sheep, swine, or goats. SECTION 2. Makes application of this Act prospective. SECTION 3. Effective date: September 1, 1999. SECTION 4. Emergency clause.