Washington, D.C. - Bipartisan legislation to protect each state's right to regulate hunting and fishing is one step closer to becoming law today.
The measure will reaffirm the long-standing right of states to make decisions about hunting and fishing licenses and tag limits. States have traditionally regulated hunting and fishing within their borders, but a recent ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals questioned whether states could distinguish between residents and non-residents when issuing licenses.
The Senate passed the measure last month as an amendment to the Supplemental Appropriations Act, but it was not in the House version of the bill. On Wednesday, a joint House-Senate Conference Committee agreed to add the measure to the final bill. The House approved the measure on Thursday, and the Senate is expected to vote on it next week.
"This is one of those common-sense pieces of legislation that comes out of the West and unfortunately is all too rare in Washington, D.C. I'm proud to be associated with it," said Congressman C.L. "Butch" Otter (R-ID), who joined Congressman Mark Udall (D-CO) as the bill's primary House sponsors. "The Founders never intended hunting and fishing to be among the things subject to federal control, and it's good to see that Congress sometimes can still recognize a 10th Amendment issue, even if the 9th Circuit too often can't."
"Sportsmen and hunters play a critical role in conserving our natural landscape and resources," Udall said. "This is particularly so with local hunters because they are vested in preserving what they grew up with and love. This amendment will allow states to continue to implement preferences for local hunters and ensure that people closest to the resource involved are recognized."
"This is a big victory for Nevadans, and for sportsmen everywhere," said Senator Harry Reid (D-NV), who joined Senators Ted Stevens (R-AK), John Ensign (R-NV), and Ben Nelson (D-NE) as Senate sponsors. "Nevada's hunting and fishing groups help conserve our natural resources through taxes, fees, and old-fashioned hard work. Our sportsmen understand Nevada, and they work hard to take care of it. This bill recognizes and rewards those efforts."
"Alaskans join Nevadans in the proud tradition of hunting and fishing," said Stevens. "This amendment ensures that our states sportsmen are able to fully partake in the resources and splendor of their own states."
"Nevada's sportsmen embody a proud tradition of western independence and I'm proud to have fought for this measure on their behalf," Ensign said. "We have protected their interests and maintained important protections for our environment."
"Uncle Sam should stay out of the business of regulating state hunting and fishing fees," said Nelson. "It's simply a case of states' rights and the states won an important victory when this bill passed."