NAC Success in Texas! HB 772 withdrawn

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NATURIST ACTION COMMITTEE UPDATE
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http://www.naturistsociety.com/NAC/
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Copyright 2005 by the Naturist Action Committee, which is responsible for its content. Permission is granted for the posting, forwarding or redistribution of this message, provided that it is reproduced in its entirety and without alteration.

DATE : April 25, 2005
SUBJECT: Texas House Bill 772
TO : Naturists and other concerned citizens

Dear Naturist,

This is an Update from the Naturist Action Committee on important action in the state of Texas.

NAC has negotiated with the sponsor of Texas House Bill 772 for the withdrawal of his bill from further legislative consideration, and that withdrawal took place on Thursday, April 21. HB 772 had sought to prevent nude youth camps in the state of Texas.

This is a success worth celebrating, but NAC has learned of circumstances that make it less than a full victory.

HISTORY

Texas State Rep. Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola) is the sponsor of HB 772, a bill introduced earlier this year. Rep. Hughes introduced similar legislation during the first special session of the Texas legislature in the summer of 2003. According to Hughes himself, his actions in that session and in this one were triggered entirely by an article that had appeared in the New York Times on June 18, 2003, as a promotional piece for the American Association for Nude Recreation. That is the same article over which Congressman Mark Foley (R-Florida) created a furor concerning nude youth camps in 2003, and it’s the same article that initiated a backlash in the state of Virginia, leading to a legislative prohibition against certain nude youth camps in that state in 2004.

The New York Times article, which AANR has characterized as having been “closely managed” by members of its staff and a public relations firm it uses, included descriptions of a nude youth camp in Florida. It also mentioned similar camps in Arizona and Virginia, and it declared that “organizers in Texas are planning a fourth camp there for the summer of 2005.”

The statement about a plan for a Texas nude youth camp was absolutely untrue.. No such plan had been proposed or considered. AANR official have said they have “no idea” how the statement made it into their closely managed article, and they have suggested the newspaper simply fabricated the statement, somehow plucking “Texas” and “2005” at random out of all the possible combinations of states and years.

WHAT DID HB 772 PROPOSE?

HB 772 proposed to add a section to the state’s Health and Safety Code, declaring that “[a] youth camp may not operate as a nudist camp.” Rep. Hughes has insisted publicly that he has no present intent to target naturist facilities for adults. However, he has issued strong and inflammatory statements about the inclusion of children in naturist activities. Most specifically, he has said he wishes to prevent any Texas implementation of the type of nude youth camp about which he read in the New York Times.

WHAT HAS NAC DONE?

The Naturist Action Committee opposed House Bill 50 in the first special session of the 2003 Texas legislature. NAC testified against that measure in a legislative committee hearing, and it died without ever receiving a vote from the committee.

When House Bill 772 was introduced in 2005, NAC immediately hired a professional legislative lobbyist and began working on behalf of naturists to kill the bill. NAC’s efforts included behind-the-scenes discussions with lawmakers in the Texas House of Representatives and the Texas Senate, as well as conferences with selected members of the House Public Health Committee (to which the bill was assigned) and Rep. Hughes, the bill’s sponsor.

Those efforts on multiple fronts have paid off in the withdrawal of HB 772.

A legislative response team from NAC arrived at the hearing of the House Public Health Committee last Thursday, prepared to testify against the bill. Rep. Hughes agreed to withdraw it just minutes before the hearing session started..

PRESENT STATUS OF THE LEGISLATION

House Bill 772 has been withdrawn from the legislative process. It is dead for all practical purposes. It cannot be declared officially dead yet, but because of the withdrawal, it has missed important deadlines that are required of bills that will make it to final passage.

A SUCCESS, YES …BUT NOT AN UNQUALIFIED VICTORY

NAC’s derailing of House Bill 772 is an important success. However, an administrative “end run” has thrown a significant wrench into the works.

In a move done so stealthily that not even Rep. Hughes knew about it, administrators in the Department of State Health Services took matters into their own hands. Through an administrative process available to the Department, they amended the Texas Administrative Code to prohibit nudity at youth camps. The Texas rules on “General Sanitation” (25 TAC ?265.26) have been modified to read:

“A youth camp may not allow campers or staff to be nude, except when bathing, showering, changing clothing or receiving medical care.” What was the trigger for such a rule? In a publicly issued statement, Department administrators wrote: “The new rule is not due to recent legislation, but is in response to published comments from nudist associations that plan to operate nudist youth camps in Texas …”

The “published comments” to which they were responding were, of course, those that appeared in the 2003 article in the New York Times.

Without question, Rep. Hughes was influenced in his decision to drop his bill when he learned of the Health Department’s rule.

DISCUSSION

The Naturist Action Committee vigorously supports and defends the right of naturists and nudists to send their kids to camp, in the same way that parents send their children to Boy Scout camp, church camp, band camp, etc. NAC has specifically defended AANR’s nude youth camps, even doing so as part of a broad coalition of naturists who held a face-to-face meeting on the issue with Congressman Mark Foley in 2003. Foley had demanded investigations into the camps and had suggested the introduction of legislation to prohibit them. AANR was invited to that meeting, but chose not to participate.

The focus here on the effect of the “closely managed” article in the New York Times is a direct reflection of its central role in so many assaults on nude youth camps by lawmakers and rule makers, including those involved with HB 772 and the administrative rule that accomplished a similar goal.

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT IN TEXAS?

NAC has initiated an immediate investigation into the legal ramifications of the change to the Administrative Code. The exact nature of further action will depend on the result of that investigation.

NAC has also broadened its data gathering in Texas and in other states in an effort to be more effective in catching future “end runs” around the legislative process.

PLEASE HELP NAC TO CONTINUE HELPING NATURISTS!

The Naturist Action Committee is a volunteer nonprofit organization that exists to advance and protect the rights of naturists throughout North America. Fighting bad legislation is expensive. Legislative lobbyists, like the one NAC hired in this instance, are necessary and effective, but can be costly.

To do its job, NAC relies entirely on the voluntary generosity of supporters like you. To donate to NAC, use the address below, or call toll free (800) 886-7230 to donate by phone using your MasterCard or Visa.

NAC
PO Box 132
Oshkosh, WI 54903

We appreciate your choosing to make a difference.

Naturally,

Bob Morton
Chairman & Executive Director
Naturist Action Committee

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Naturist Action Committee (NAC) – PO Box 132, Oshkosh, WI 54903
Executive Dir. Bob Morton? ? ?? –
Online Rep. Dennis Kirkpatrick? –
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Author: benfell

David Benfell holds a Ph.D. in Human Science from Saybrook University. He earned a M.A. in Speech Communication from CSU East Bay in 2009 and has studied at California Institute of Integral Studies. He is an anarchist, a vegetarian ecofeminist, a naturist, and a Taoist.

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