Tensions ran high at the Texas Legislature during this most recent Special Session.
Legislators cut summer plans short to spend the majority of their vacation time in Austin to fight over matters like bathrooms, property taxes, and school finance—with no resolve.
The contentious nature of the Legislature resulted in very little items moving through the Texas House without objection.
Well, that was until a resolution to make October “Texas Pecan Month” appeared in the Texas House. So how did Pecans bring the Texas House together?
That story starts with two brothers from the Rio Grande Valley—Ricco and Sam Garcia. Earlier this year Sam Garcia, a Harvard Law Student, was sifting through statistical data from Google Trends and came across an interesting trend. Sam and his older brother, Ricco Garcia, were in the middle of researching for a book they are writing over potential state and federal policy suggestions to aid Texas agricultural growth when Sam discovered a peculiar annual phenomenon concerning the term “Pecan.”
Sam found that every November the popularity of the search term “Pecan” surged, and when he searched the term “Pecan” and “November” he discovered that November is National Georgia Pecan Month. The national dedication of a month to Georgia Pecans appeared to be a well-timed marketing plan to grow demand for Georgia Pecans right before the start of the holidays. This was uniquely interesting to Sam because he had discovered the pecan industry in Texas was experiencing a considerable demand increase due to huge orders of pecans from China (The huge Chinese orders are interestingly the result of the pecan’s similarity to the Chinese Hickory Nut, which is a beloved treat in China). Knowing that the Texas Pecan industry, although large, was not an industry that was made to meet the exponential demand increases coming from China, the two brothers came up with an approach similar to Georgia’s in order to boost the popularity of Texas Pecans and incrementally increase demand for them. This plan involved the official assigning of the title Texas Pecan Month to a month before November. However the official naming of a month required legislative action and agreement on the state level—no small feat given the current tensions in Texas politics. To make matters even more difficult, they would need get the “Texas Pecan Month” legislation through the Texas House during the limited special session.
Fortunately, the two brothers are no strangers to the legislative process, and the plan to grow the Texas Pecan industry became much more realistic when the brothers found a powerful member of the Texas House to sponsor their legislation—Vice Chairman of Appropriations, Representative Oscar Longoria. Before recruiting Rep. Longoria as a sponsor, Ricco took the “Texas Pecan Month” legislation to the Texas Pecan Board and the Texas Pecan Growers Association for approval, and was able to get both associations to quickly jump onboard in support of the brothers’ efforts.
With the Pecan industry’s support, the brothers presented the idea to Rep. Longoria, a state leader who has long been a champion of growing Texas industries, and he immediately decided to carry the resolution. Representative Longoria then quickly arranged to have the item heard on the Texas House Floor and succeeded in doing so just days before the end of the Special Session.
Finally, on August 11th, 4 days before the Special Session dramatically ended, the Texas House agreed on the legislation and officially recognized October as “Texas Pecan Month”. Making the “Texas Pecan Month” legislation one of the only items to sail through the Texas House during this most recent Special Session without any objection. The passing of Texas Pecan Month is evidence that the Texas House has the capability of quickly moving in ways that benefit all Texans, all it takes is putting the right information in the hands of a proactive legislator who is willing to hear and support new ideas that they believe in, even when tensions are high, in order to help Texas grow.