The Senate passed a bill today that would crackdown on cockfighting rings. "The roosters are crowing, and it’s time to go noodling,” said Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr., D-Brownsville, the Senate sponsor of the bill.
Already passed by the House, the bill makes it illegal to knowingly participate in, attend or bet on a cockfight, to possess cockfighting paraphernalia or to lease property to conduct a cockfight.
Lucio said the bill would “close a loophole in the current law" that makes it difficult for law enforcement to shut down cockfighting rings. Only those with "intent" to cockfight could be prosecuted under the new law. Breeding roosters for show would not be a criminal offense.
“It does protect those who collect [cockfighting paraphernalia] as a hobby ... for example, I have two of them in my possession, and obviously they’re collectors items as such,” Lucio said.
Sen. Mike Jackson, R-Pasadena, said it would be difficult for police to ascertain whether an individual had the intent to use paraphernalia for cockfighting. In response, Lucio said, “law enforcement officers hopefully use good judgment.”
The Senate adopted an amendment by Sen. Glenn Hegar, R-Katy, to reduce the criminal charges against individuals caught with cockfighting paraphernalia, betting on cockfights or knowingly leasing their property to cockfighting rings from a Class A misdemeanor to a Class C misdemeanor. His amendment also would exempt from any criminal charges children 15 or younger who are brought to the fights by their parents.
The House must now approve changes made by the Senate before the bill moves to the Governor.