Legislative sessions end soon for many states.
Below is a sampling of some of the hunting and fishing bills that could soon affect you.
New Mexico (legislature adjourns 3/18)
SB 268 would make it unlawful for a person to organize, cause, sponsor, arrange, hold or participate in a coyote-killing contest. NMCOG opposes this bill, citing it as a stepping stone for the anti-hunting organizations to begin pushing more and more emotion based legislation.
An exemption for the hunting industry was amended out of the bill in the House Judiciary Committee. This bill provides a new chapter of law which states that an unlicensed person must use a firearm dealer when transferring a firearm to another unlicensed person. A person who violates the provisions of the bill would be guilty of a misdemeanor for a first offense and guilty of a fourth degree felony for a second or subsequent offense. In essence it would now be illegal for an outfitter to provide a firearm for their client to utilize for a hunt that is longer than 3 days, without going through a licensed firearm dealer.
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Idaho (legislature adjourns early April)
The revamped Fish and Game resident fee increase bill called Price Lock now includes a $5 surcharge ($10 nonresidents) that would be placed on the sale of licenses that would raise an estimated $2 million a year, half of which would augment the department’s depredation program. The other half would go toward improving access for hunters and anglers. The portion of the fee going to the depredation program would be split again with 50 percent going into the fund for compensating farmers and ranchers for crop damage caused by big game animals and 50 percent toward prevention of such damage.
The Price Lock feature of HB 230 exempts people who purchase licenses every year from paying higher license fees provided one purchases a license in 2017 and each subsequent year for the next five years. However, the lock would not apply to the proposed $5 and $10 surcharges. Resident fees haven’t risen since 2005. Non-resident fees went up in 2009 at the height of the recession.
IOGA supports HB 230, citing the importance of IDFG being able to continue to gather and analyze information on a consistent basis regarding the health of big game and fish populations Shortened seasons due to lack of information are anathema to outfitter businesses. Resident outfitters and guides would also benefit from static license fees.
In an attempt to bolster the state’s invasive species prevention program, this bill calls for supplemental funding for additional watercraft inspection stations and to increase the hours that check stations are operational. Invasive mussels were recently found in Montana. Several pieces of competing legislation would add staff to seemingly better coordinate the overall invasive species programs. H 211 would increase the invasive species sticker fee for nonresidents from $22 to $30. Outfitters have been paying for invasive species stickers for both motorized and non-motorized boats since 2009.
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Montana (legislature adjourns late April)
SB 91 aims to clarify what constitutes as unlawful use of a vehicle while hunting. The latest version specifies hunting from or across a public highway as unlawful use. It also clarifies that while there is to be no hunting from any type of vehicle, spotting game from a vehicle does not constitute hunting. Furthermore, so long as both feet are on the ground, the entire body is out of the vehicle, and the road is not a public highway, lawful hunting is permitted. The bill goes on to spell out other unlawful uses of a vehicle such as herding or impeding movement.
If passed, this bill would exempt employees of “seasonal outdoor recreation providers” from minimum wage and overtime laws. Montana Outfitters and Guides Association has pointed out that the current law requires outfitters to pay some of their less experienced workers more than deserved and doesn’t account for other benefits provided like room and board.
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Maine (legislature adjourns 6/21)
This bill doubles the number of moose permits for auction by conservation organizations from 10 permits to 20 permits and directs the Commissioner of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife to disburse at least 50% of the revenue from the auction to conservation organizations for the purpose of operating youth day camps.
This bill removes the prohibition on training hunting dogs on bear in those portions of Washington County and Hancock County that are situated south of Route 9.
This bill proposes to combine all fisheries managers under one roof and provide for a 5-year sunset provision on all fisheries management rules and on all stocking plans.
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