This is why most politicains are lower than a used car salesman or a IRS auditor in my opinion.---Just and bunch of con artists that ripped off us sportsmens again
Posted on Wed, May. 19, 2004
Political gamesmanship dooms conservation measures
Some of the most significant conservation proposals in decades went down the tubes when the Minnesota legislative session came to its acrimonious ending Sunday.
It's possible that Gov. Tim Pawlenty will call lawmakers back for a special session after a cooling-off period, but there's no guarantee the conservation programs, which would have benefited tens of thousands of acres, will be on the agenda.
The biggest losses were in the bill dedicating money for the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program, which would have paid farmers to retire 120,000 acres of marginal land. The program, which would be in line for millions in matching grants from the federal government, was in the same bonding bill with a proposal to fund thousands of acres of new Wildlife Management Areas.
Pawlenty originally asked for $12 million for WMAs, which provide critical hunting areas for small game, but the proposal had been trimmed in the Legislature.
The bill asking voters to dedicate a portion of the sales tax to natural resources also died in the waning hours of the legislative session. The proposed constitutional amendment had become a popular poster child for other causes, with lawmakers adding funding for the arts and museums. At one point, a lawmaker wanted to add an amendment banning gay marriage, but the natural resources bill sponsor, Dallas Sams, DFL-Staples, pulled his proposal. The delay cost the proposal precious days of debate.
There was plenty of finger pointing on the so-called "3/16ths of 1 percent bill" that had ballooned to 5/16ths of 1 percent. Democrats blamed Republicans for attempting to tack the gay marriage amendment, while Republicans blamed Democrats for weighing it down with arts and culture funding. In the waning days of the session, Republicans were attempting to trim the bill down to its original one-eighth of 1 percent of the sales tax that focused solely on natural resources.
"When all is said and done, I think both parties were responsible for the situation we're in,'' said Mark LaBarbera, president of the Minnesota Outdoor Heritage Alliance.
Last summer, lawmakers lined up at the MOHA outdoors summit, agreeing that dedicated funding for natural resources was important. "It was the No. 1 issue on the agenda,'' LaBarbera said.
And despite a big news conference early the session, in which big-name Republicans and Democrats stood up and praised the idea, the initiative fell because of bitter partisan politics.
Perhaps the biggest irony is that Republicans who supported dedicated funding for natural resources were the same lawmakers who used the bill as a means of trying to force Democrats to vote on the gay marriage proposal.
The bill to create a mourning dove season, which likely will be signed by Pawlenty soon, is at best a symbolic victory for hunters. Although mourning dove hunting will attract 30,000 to 50,000 hunters, the real victory would have been money for habitat.
The mourning dove proposal was part of a game and fish bill that has other changes for hunters. Once the governor signs the bill, they'll become law. Here's a summary:
The duck season will open at 9 a.m. next year, rather than the traditional noon opener. The Department of Natural Resources already was planning to move the opening shooting hours, so this only formalized the change.
Turkey hunters now can have another person assist in calling but not shooting. The proposal states that an adult can help another adult turkey hunters, but not for a fee (which eliminate guiding), and the helping person cannot possess a gun.
The DNR is authorized to create a quality deer management zone in northwestern Minnesota and a youth deer hunt in the same region. The quality-deer hunt, which would implement antler restrictions, is only a proposal, and the DNR is expected to hold public hearings on the issue later this year.
Nonresidents now can trap in Minnesota, but only on land they own.
Deer hunters will be allowed to party hunt with an all-season deer tag.
Youth deer hunters 16 and 17 years old are eligible for discounted youth deer licenses and for taking antlerless deer without a permit.
Chris Niskanen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-228-5524.