Shooting hogs from helicopters and fishing with your hands: five new Perry-approved laws in Texas

Chris Moody

When the new Texas state fiscal year begins on Thursday, more than 700 laws passed by the legislature and signed by Gov. Rick Perry this year will take effect. From hogs and helicopters to handguns and highways, here's a look at five Texas-size laws about to go into effect in the Lone Star State:

1. It will be legal in Texas to shoot feral hogs from helicopters.

Starting Thursday, adventure hunters can legally pay for a helicopter ride and fire away at some of the 2 million feral hogs that roam the state.

State Rep. Sid Miller, who sponsored the legislation, says the animals cause up to $500 million in damage each year and that the new law can help reduce the damage.

The Fort Worth Star Telegram reports that Vertex Helicopters, a Houston-based company, has already reserved slots for 30 hog hunters, at a price of $475 an hour (with a 3-hour minimum), and that 60 hunters have taken the company's required $350 safety course.

Before the law passed, it was only legal for residents to shoot feral hogs from helicopters on their own land.

2. The government will no longer fine you for catching fish with your hands.

Fishing for catfish in Texas waters without a pole has been illegal for the better part of the last century, but thanks to a law passed this year, bare-handed fishermen can finally rest easy. Starting Thursday, fishermen who like to use their hands instead of a fishing pole will no longer face the threat of a $500 fine.

In the method known as "noodling," a fisherman sticks his hand under the water until the fish bites it, and then wrestles the creature out of the water.

3. It's OK to bring your gun to work.

Workers in Texas now have the freedom to pack a gun with their (freshly noodled) catfish sandwich when heading to work. Employees can bring guns to their place of business, so long as they leave the firearm concealed and locked in their car.

4. I can drive 85.

Americans will be able to drive faster in Texas than any other state in the nation. Approved in April as part of a state transportation bill, the Texas legislature raised the maximum state speed limit to 85 miles per hour.

5. Want to have a beer and see a naked lady? Pay the government five bucks.

Yes, Rick Perry raised taxes! This law was passed in 2007, but was deemed constitutional by the state's highest court only last week. The Texas Supreme Court ruled that the measure--which requires Texas strip clubs that serve alcohol to charge a $5 dollar "pole tax" (get it?) on every patron--is not a violation of the First Amendment.

The money raised from the tax will be used to support programs that aid victims of sexual abuse and fund health care for the uninsured.

Sorry gents, no video for this one.