House adopts new fishing, hunting bill

Karena Wells

Jefferson City, Mo. – This November Missourians will be asked to decide what kind of limitations they want placed on hunting, fishing and logging in Missouri.

The House of Representatives voted to pass House Bill 35, requiring a two-thirds majority vote on initiative proposals relating to the opportunity to harvest bird, fish, game, wildlife or forestry resources. This will not apply to the amendment or repeal of sales tax for conservation purposes pursuant to Section 439(a) of Article IV of the Missouri Constitution.

Opponents to the bill point out the fact that never before has a constitutional amendment required a two-thirds majority vote. The question of whether or not fishing deserves to be a constitutional amendment was another question raised by the opposition.

“Should it be a constitutional amendment to protect fishing, hunting and logging,” said Rep. Vicky Wilson (D-Columbia). “Fishing is not a civil right.”

Under the bill, the Missouri Department of Conservation would be exempt from the two-thirds vote.

The conservation department would continue to receive one-eighth of all sales taxes.

“Why is there such a fear or paranoia of outside groups being involved, unless the makers of the bill have ulterior motives,” Wilson said.

Proponents of the bill documented the rich history of fishing and hunting in Missouri and the need for the continued support of the state to ensure the rights of fishers and hunters.

Rep. Bryan Stevenson (R-Webb City) did agree that the Missouri Department of Conservation was well funded. He said the Missouri conservation department was set up to be partly independent, but like all state agencies it is still under the legislative authority.

He supported the bill, stating fishing and hunting is part of Missouri’s heritage and promotes strong families. Stevenson believes hunting and fishing also manages wildlife.

“We need to preserve our heritage and prevent outside groups with money and mounting corporate ad campaigns from coming in and pushing a change that would interfere with a historic tradition,” Stevenson said.

He also said that the two-thirds majority vote refers to the initial proposal voting on the bill.

Like with any other constitutional amendment, HB 35 will require a 50-percent plus one vote in the November election.