Kelly Hancock’s Bill Gives Owners Final Say On Whether Dining Patios Go To The Dogs

The North Texas Republican says cities shouldn’t prevent restaurants from opening their outdoor dining areas to pups.

By Kristen CabreraMarch 25, 2019 11:31 am,

As the 2019 legislative session continues, Texas Standard is talking with members about some of the bills they’ve filed, and what they hope their legislation will accomplish.

State Sen. Kelly Hancock, (R-Tarrant County) filed SB 476, a Fido-friendly outdoor dining bill.

On why this bill is needed:

I filed SB 476… in response to friends of ours, a Jordanian couple who owns a coffee shop in North Richland Hills. I was getting my coffee one day and customers who had brought their dog were told that they could not bring their dog inside. They said, ‘We’re just going to go out on the porch and have our coffee.’ That’s when I found out – you can’t do that… If they were going to allow pets on their outside patio area, then the city was going to charge them additional fees, they would have to have additional inspections — basically just onerous regulatory issues at a city level.

On response to the bill:

We’ve gotten a lot of very, very favorable response. There’s a lot of people that love dogs in the state of Texas. They want to sit outside, read the newspaper at their local coffee shop or restaurant. It’s probably one of the simpler bills that I’ll file this session — it has obviously turned into one of the more popular bills. We had one senator vote against it due to local control issues as my understanding, no pun intended but it hasn’t been that rough.

On the political motivation for this bill:

We don’t make laws for the cities that aren’t putting undue burdens on individuals. But when you see that at a city level… it’s OK to come and step in and say ‘the ultimate right belongs to the individual — the restaurant owner.’ … The restaurant owner, under certain situations, if they are open and they’re willing to have pets on their patio, then by golly bring your dog and have a cup of coffee.

On emulating a similar law in Austin:

Can you imagine a hard-core conservative actually mirroring Austin law and putting into statute state-wide? Well, that’s is kinda what happened. We looked at their statute and thought they did a good job of how they addressed this locally within the city of Austin.

On the future for this bill:

As long as the language doesn’t change, and they adopt the same draft — the same language and wording — on the House side, then it goes off to the governor. And all of a sudden, we have a very pet-friendly state in the state of Texas.