Brother Jason is headed to Madison tomorrow to speak at the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board hearing on Assembly Bill 311 (later becoming Act 168), often referred to as the "Sporting Heritage Bill". The bill, introduced by Representative Jim Steineke (R-Kaukana), establishes a bipartisan sporting recruitment and retention task force, creates incentives to hunt, fish and trap, among other things.
I'm very proud of my brother, whose passion for the outdoors is matched by his tenacity to try to right a wrong. He'll be speaking for our group of hunters - The Brotherhood of the Arrow, "a fraternity of archers bound by the legacy of Kenny 'Kahuna' Koepsel" - our dear friend and leader who passed away in November. You can read about Kahuna here - we lost a good man.
I'm not going to get into any more specifics of the bill - it's already been passed (taking effect January 1, 2013) and you can read it later (you know, like what Nancy Pelosi stated regarding the Obamacare bill). The DNR is making its recommendations for implementation, as the DNR finds a number of issues with the bill. Of the 2,000 letters, phone calls and emails from concerned citizens (hunters and non-hunters), only 85 were in favor of passage.
Here's my main grievance:
After Bill 311 was introduced, a public hearing was held. The outcry was overwhelming. Shortly after that - 9 days later - Congressman Jeffrey Mursau (R-Crivitz) introduced an amendment to Bill 311 (Amendment 4/AB 311) that read, "...hunting, fishing, and trapping in state parks;...". No public hearing was held after Mursau added this and the bill was eventually signed by Governor Scott Walker.
Basically, this means that public park hunting land that was once reserved for archers may now be open to gun hunters. Mursau did what many politicians do - slip bits of verbiage that no one knows about into on-going legislation and that's that.
And the nail in the coffin is that the Buckhorn State Park in Necedah where we've hunted for decades is most effected by Act 168. 3,831 additional acres will now be available to gun hunters of the 6,990 total acreage. But hey, according to bill co-sponsor Representative Al Ott (R-Forest Junction), it's all in a day's work.
"I suppose you want to throw stones at us." Ott went on to state that sometimes the Legislature does not do enough homework upfront and that this was one of those times.
Which makes it all the more easier to just pass shit without the public knowing about it, right, Alvin? Aside from the fact that you could already gun hunt in certain areas of 36 of the 54 state parks (rough figures) and this piece of legislation just opened up a can of worms. Why add more? This is not a condemnation of methods to improve Wisconsin's hunting heritage nor of gun hunters. It IS a condemnation of the sneaky tactics ALL politicians utilize to get their names attached to legislation. If you held one hearing on a bill and changes are made to said bill, you can hold another hearing outlining the changes. It's very simple.