AUSTIN – An hour and a half drive from the state Capitol will take you to the small town of Llano, with a population of just over 3,000 people who contend they live in the “deer capital of Texas.”
Many Texans would probably have agreed, until a resolution was filed this session to make it the official title. Other lawmakers felt that cities in their districts may be more deserving.
Resolutions such as this one that give small Texas towns a chance to gloat about their food, fruits and festivals often sail through the Legislature, but they are not all immune to political games.
Rep. Andrew Murr, R-Junction, was forced to suggest a compromise, a more simple resolution that honored Llano “as a renowned destination for deer hunters,” which made its way through the House and Senate.
Llano’s Main Street director Terry “Tex” Toler, who brought the original resolution to Murr, said he was disappointed to see the town’s official designation fail.
“I challenge you to Google deer capital and see what comes up,” Toler said. “It’s not even like it was under contention by anyone else.”
A quick Google search does claim Llano as the deer capital of Texas, but the town will have to wait until 2017 to fight for the title again.
“We’re going to bring it up next session, but in the mean time I’m going to make a lot of noise about it,” Toler said. “If someone else gets this designation it’ll be a fraud.”
Although Llano will not be crowned as the deer capital this session, other Texas towns got lucky. Poteet became the state’s official strawberry capital, Dripping Springs became the official wedding capital and Quitaque became the official bison capital.
Most of the resolutions take the form of “concurrent resolutions,” which require both the House and Senate to have an interest in the matter, and require the approval of the governor before it can become official.
Rep. Drew Springer, R-Muenster, filed a resolution that would designate Nocona, a small town in his district, as the official Classic Car Capital of Texas. Nacona is home to the Horton Classic Car Museum, which contains 120 American vintage, classic and muscle cars.
Springer said he and most lawmakers file these “official designation” resolutions to boost economic development in towns they represent.
“In small towns in Texas they can have that identity and be formalized as something in Texas they can market,” Springer said.
Cowboy hat approved
Springer was not as lucky with a measure that would designate Texas vodka and ruby red grapefruit juice as the official cocktail of the 84th Legislative session.
He said he ultimately decided not to go forward with the resolution because of the turmoil surrounding the American Phoenix Foundation this session, a group that collected 800 hours of secretly filmed footage of lawmakers at bars and in the halls of the Capitol.
“I think in light of that group acting the way they were, there was concern that it would look like ‘they come down and drink all the time,’ ” Springer said.
Despite some failures, Texans can rest easy knowing that this session the Legislature approved the cowboy hat as the official state hat, the Texas Gulf shrimp as the state crustacean and the western honey bee as the official pollinator of the state.
Rep. Kenneth Sheets, R-Dallas, filed three bills that made #txlege, #Texas and #TexasToDo official hashtags to encourage people to engage with their lawmakers on social media.
Sheets said the only push back he received was concern that lawmakers were wasting their time with just 140 days to pass bills and approve a state budget, but the House spent just two minutes passing all three resolutions on the floor.
“I’m always sensitive of the time constraints we have,” Sheets said. “If this was something that would have taken a significant amount of time, I wouldn’t have been pushing it.”