You know, I really do like Texans. I lived there for a few years and I think I have an accurate sense of the place.  But Texans are Texans. It really is “like a whole ‘nother country” sometimes.

The Texas legislature recently passed the Fish Fraud law which specifically addresses the problem of fraud at fishing tournaments. The bill passed the house 142 to 4 and the senate 30 to 1 and awaits signing by the governor.  The bill provides penalties for fraud starting at a Class A Misdemeanor for the first offense to a third degree Felony for fishing crimes involving greater than $10,000 in prize money.  

According to the article, game wardens and prosecutors approached Representative Dan Flynn about  a fish fraud incident at Lake Ray Hubbard east of Dallas in October of 2009. Rep Flynn jumped on this outrage and brought the beady eye of scrutiny to bear on those dark hearted anglers who dare to flim-flam fishing tournaments. Case in point:  A semi-pro angler forced a 1 pound weight into a 9.5 lb bass, misrepresenting the weight of the fish and thus defrauding the tournament organizers. 

Without the benefit of a Fish Fraud law, the crooked angler got 15 days in jail, 5 years of probation, and loss of his fishing license for the duration of his probation.

It certainly seems to me like Texas Justice was swift and unblinking in this case without a special law on the books. The miscreant who perpetrated this act was nabbed by the local constable and thrown behind bars.

Ever wonder why there are so many laws on the books? This is an example of how it happens. Somebody games the system and legislators rush in to pack legislative caulking into a perceived hole in the wall. The Texas legislature has felonized yet somethng else. 

Are we really better off with an ever expanding definition of felonious acts?  The fisherman’s wickedness is plain for all to see. But does this one case merit the enactment of yet one more piece of legislation?  If you are a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Maybe it’s best if we take some time off from inventing new laws and look at what we’ve wrought?