Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Newest felony: Misrepresenting a fish

You can't make this stuff up: Though there are no new oyster felonies moving at the Lege this year, the Texas Tribune reports that both the Texas House and Senate have passed legislation to make cheating or lying about the size of a fish you caught in a tournament a 3rd degree felony. Becca Aaronson at the Trib couldn't resist the reference:
Fraudulent fishermen better reel it in. The Senate passed a bill today to make cheating in a fishing tournament up to a third-degree felony, sending the measure on to the governor.

HB 1806 expands existing law to all fishing tournaments, from fresh to salt water. It would make it an offense for contestants to give, take, offer or accept a fish not caught as part of the tournament. It would also be an offense to misrepresent a fish.
You know what the punishment should be for cheating or lying about the length of a fish in a tournament if you get caught? Disqualification. Ban them from future tournaments. If the tournament is affiliated with others, ban them from those. Why can't the private sector take care of this on its own? Why should law enforcement be involved at all, much less make it a third degree felony? After all, prosecution for the offense assumes the perpetrator is found out; if they don't catch cheaters, they face no penalty, criminal or otherwise.

Looking at this bill, though, claims about fish lengths, weights and numbers at tournaments had already been subsumed under the purview of law enforcement, this just boosts the penalty to felony status. An already existing provision in the law holds that "A person commits an offense if the person sponsors or conducts a fishing tournament and knows of the occurrence in the tournament of activity prohibited by Subsection (b) of this section and does not immediately notify a law enforcement officer commissioned by the director of its occurrence." So not only is cheating or lying about your catch an offense, it's an offense for tournament managers not to report it!

A 3rd degree felony obligates taxpayers to a 2-10 year prison sentence, or if the fisherman is put on probation, that puts them at greater risk of imprisonment later for violating their probation terms. Government has no business being involved in prosecuting fishermen for exaggerating their catch. I'm certain you could have prosecuted half the boys in my senior class for lying about the biggest fish they ever caught. I don't condone doing it in a tournament, but I can't fathom why it's the government's job punish hyperbolic anglers for misrepresenting a fish when the private sector has ample remedies available to them.

The bill appears to have passed the Senate unamended (out of the Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee) and so will now head to the Governor. The Coastal Conservation Association gave the only testimony in favor of the bill, with no one opposing it in committee in either chamber. As always, the Legislative Budget Board says it's cost is insignificant.

Texas had 2,383  felonies when the session started. No telling yet how many new ones the Lege will pass this year, but Grits' pre-session prediction was 55. Nobody really tallies them all comprehensively until the parole board must assign new felonies risk categories later this year. But there are a bunch of them. You'd never know the Lege is broke because they seem to think more incarceration can solve any and every social problem: Even dishonest, exaggerating fishermen.


Anonymous said...

Well darn it Grits, I thought all fishermen misrepresent the size of the fish, especially the ones that get away :)

A Texas PO said...

Is this really that big of a problem here?

Anonymous said...

You have GOT to be freakin' kidding me!

Hook Em Horns said...

Texas = PRISON STATE! Any questions?

sunray's wench said...

I think someone on the Lege needs to start seriously asking the question of all new Bills: "what happens if we DON'T do this?" Because if the answer is "nothing", then why pass it in the first place? Passing it causes more things to happen, most of which can't be afforded right now. Ignoring it will not increase anyone's costs, and seriously, how exactly will this Bill benefit the majority of people in Texas today?

ckikerintulia said...

This has to rank way up there among stupid new felonies, maybe tied with the one that would make just watching a cockfight a felony. Don't know where that one is in the system, but it was endorsed by small government advocate Amarillo Globe News.

Don Dickson said...

The golf lobby is high-fiving each other to celebrate their exclusion from this bill.

And if you cheat at solitaire, I guess it's up to God to strike you dead.

I can only surmise that the Legislature has already solved all of our other vexing social problems, such as tax relief for yacht purchasers, legislators' compelling need to bring guns into churches and bars, and criminalizing the hiring of any undocumented alien except one who is providing child care or lawn care.

Anonymous said...

2011 Legislature Motto: Stupid is as Stupid does

Anonymous said...

Don Wrote:

"The golf lobby is high-fiving each other to celebrate their exclusion from this bill."

OMG, you gave me a hearty laugh!

I was thinking that next session all us guys that lie about the length of our 'parts' will be in a real pickle... 2nd degree felony maybe?

On the serious side of things, What happened to all of those less important bills like the Budget?

Sometimes you think that the session will produce great things for the lives of the citizens, then the cold dead redsnapper of truth hits you right across the face...

Anonymous said...

What is the Texas Tribune?

It’s entertaining how naive the mainstream media thinks we are. Back in 09 the San Antonio Express news wrote an article about how John Thornton, a venture capitalist/big democrat donor, was taking a break from donating to Democrats in order to assist the “non-partisan” Texas Tribune get off the ground.

The article attempts to imply that Mr. Thornton has all of the sudden forgotten about his liberal roots out of a desire to spread “non-partisan” news.

Really? Do they honestly expect us to believe that?

Everyone has an agenda. It’s our individual opinions which make us human. Therefore to assume that John Thornton is less partisan because he is now giving his money to a non-partisan, non profit organization is a message that will only work for political novices.

So why would he do it? Why would John Thornton remove hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Democratic party? Could it be that he felt that his agenda would be best championed by a different organization? Why not put your time, talents, and efforts into an organization which isn’t publicly labeled as a group with liberal bias?

When you look at the blatant biased agenda that the Texas Tribune has been subtly communicating since it’s inception it’s not hard to understand why liberal donors would be supporting them.

DEWEY said...

Will this be declared emergency legislation by Govenor Goodhair?? (My sarcasm knows no bounds !!)

Hook Em Horns said...

The sad fact is this legislature and idiot Governor were re-elected en-masse by an electorate that simply does not care...

Anonymous said...

How does one "misrepresent" the size of a fish in a tournament?

"Yeah, here she is, all 36 inches of her!" as he hands the fish off to the tournament judge holding a ruler.

Anonymous said...

Maybe eventually, they'll make running for or holding a public office in Texas a felony and solve all our problems!

Anonymous said...

"The golf lobby is high-fiving each other to celebrate their exclusion from this bill.

And if you cheat at solitaire, I guess it's up to God to strike you dead."

Genius sir! I literally laughed out loud.

The Homeless Cowboy said...

Ladies and Gentlemen, I am deeply saddened by this event. Truly one of the last bastions of manhood has been stripped from us. Men have misrepresented their fishing trophy's for thousands of years, even gone so far as to stop at the market and buy them when we had a bad day. So far as lying about the size and fight they put up, it is an inalienable right. I call to action all good men ( and Women) resist this unholy seizure of our traditions. Mail a dead fish to your congressman and maybe they will begin to see that WE HAVE HAD ENOUGH they must cease and desist from this practice. They have just turned every law abiding male citizen in this state into a felon. THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE.

I cheat at Solitaire too...........

Anonymous said...

Is there a registry for fish stories yet?

A Texas PO said...

This has got to be the funniest string of satirical blog comments I have read in a long time. Thanks, Grits Community!

Anonymous said...

Convict No. 1: "So what are you in for?"

Convict No. 2: "Me? Lying about the size of a fish. What about you?"

Convict No. 1: "They caught me with some sage plant, an herb called 'salvia divinorum.' "

Convict No.2: "Oh well, I s'pose that a police state is a small price to pay for living in a free country."

Anonymous said...

The lobby for the Tricked Womans Alliance of Texas has added an amendment to the bill, that can only be used during the punishment of the trial.
If the person found guilty of lying about the size of his fish is found to have lied size matters else where in his life it bumps it up to a second degree felony.

Anonymous said...

Come on guys. Find whatever it
is you're using for a brain and
re-read the legislation. It isn't
about lying (misrepresenting) the
size of a fish. It is about being
in a tournament and submitting a
fish you have obtained from another
source (that means a fish you did
not actually catch in this tournament) and submitting this
as your own catch. Think about
the rewards in bonafide tournaments. If you publish a
work or a song that you represent
to be your own which in truth and
in fact was the work of another
that's plaigarism. Think about
the athletes who are being nailed
for lying, not to mention using
steroids. The list goes on and
on. We have become a nation of
liars. Lying to your wife is
one thing. Lying for monetary
gain is quite another. Some
group out there was lobbying for
the passage of this bill for good
and serious reason which is why
it was tacked on to another piece
of legislation in the first place.
Common sense tells me that it will
not be heavily policed.