There is good news and bad news in the Legislative
Watch department before the current session of the Indiana General Assembly
had time to get dry behind the ears.
The good news can be related in a short paragraph
or two. It concerns Senate Bill 45’s unanimous approval by the Senate Energy
and Environmental Committee late last week.
Authored by Sen. Beverly Gard (R-Greenfield),
who doubles in brass as the chair of said panel, the complicated bill seeks
limit the use of water from the Great Lakes, and streams of our state.
It is long past due.
More complicated, under the heading of BAD NEWS,
is House Joint Resolution 3, authored by Representative John Ulmer for
the umpteenth time. It, basically, is aimed at giving hunters the right
to hunt, fish and harvest game. The big problem revolves around Rep. Patrick
Bauer, Speaker of the House. He assigns matters (bills and resolutions)
to committees for action, and every time he faces the concept of hunt or
fish rights he shuffles it off to a Rules and Legislative Procedures Committee
which appears to have no members and does no business. It is, in short,
a graveyard for matters Rep. Bauer whims no good.
Well, HJR 14 (on this subject) was adopted in
2005 on votes of 83-15 in the House, and 41-6 in the Senate. But there
was a hitch. Amending the state constitution, which this would do, requires
that the matter must be adopted by two consecutives legislatures with a
general election between them.
So last year (2007), Rep. Ulmer threw the matter
in the hopper again and Rep. Bauer promptly deposited it in the sure-death
panel where it expired.
This year Rep. Ulmer, somewhat undaunted, tossed
the resolution out again. And Rep. Bauer promptly (for all practical purposes)
again assigned it to the certain-death committee.
Now Dick Mercier, chairman of the Sportsmen’s
Roundtable of Indiana, the state’s largest and strongest voice in conservation
matters, is asking members of Hoosier Outdoor Writers (HOW) to intervene.
I would have, anyhow.
In his letter to members of HOW, Mercier says
“Neither John Ulmer nor the Indiana Sportsmen’s
Roundtable believe that changing the Indiana Constitution should be taken
the lightly, but as may be seen above, when we were able to get hearings
and votes on the issue there was overwhelming support from the legislators.
It appears to us that the Speaker of the House is holding hostage the over
1 million Hoosier citizens, who purchase 17 million dollars worth of sporting
licenses each year. It is our position that the general public, in a referendum,
should be the ones to rule whether a change is proper, not one heavy-handed
“We would greatly appreciate it if you would
be good enough to see that your readers have an opportunity to fully understand
the situation and be able to convey their wishes, in this matter, to their
I would add that a publication of the International
Association of Fish and Wildlife agencies two years ago listed all Indiana
hunting retail sales of $267,785,454 (that’s millions, folks) in 2001.
Total multiplier effect for that year was $530,440,648. The report listed
salaries and wages related to hunting as $122,231,233; jobs, 5085; sales
and motor fuel taxes, $13,108,455; state income taxes, $3,006,079; and
federal income taxes, $19,247,658.
Those figures are gleaned only from Hoosiers who
vote, pay taxes, and hunt. Countless hundreds of thousands who fish, camp
and recreate outdoors in many other ways pump untold zillions into the
Think, for example, what the fare would have been
at the First Thanksgiving had the pilgrims not been hunters and anglers
who tilled the soil.
Yes, outdoorsing is a very big thing.