Halfway There: Michigan Senate Passes SB 288 and 289!April 25th, 2013
We’re halfway there. Michigan’s outdoors community has stepped up in the past few weeks to support legislation ensuring scientific wildlife management and protecting the rights to hunt, fish and trap. You’ve made phone calls, sent e-mails, gave speeches at club meetings and even traveled to Lansing for Camo at the Capitol to tell your legislators to vote for Senate Bills 288 and 289. Today, that work paid off as the Senate passed SB 288 by a vote of 25-11 and SB 289 by a vote of 27–9!
“I am so proud of MUCC members for their hard work,” said Erin McDonough, Executive Director of Michigan United Conservation Clubs. “Michigan Trappers and Predator Callers Association, Michigan Hunting Dog Federation, Michigan Bear Hunters Association, U.P. Bearhoundsmen and Safari Club International, especially, deserve thanks for really rallying their members in support of these bills.”
Many of you also responded to an early morning e-mail today encouraging you to call your Senator to vote on these bills immediately. We’d heard they were delaying, and your calls prompted them to move.
They did agree to a substitute for SB 288. The substitute removes the appropriation of $1 million, which means that the Department of Natural Resources will have to conduct research out of its regular budget to present scientific data to the Natural Resources Commission. It also means that this bill could be subject to a referendum, and we all know how honest (cough) the Humane Society of the United States is with registered voters when it comes to that. But we’ll fight that fight when it comes.
The substitute also exempts any species already removed through a referendum from Natural Resources Commission (NRC) authority under the bill, which means they could not add mourning doves which were removed through referendum in 2006, the only species to which this exclusion would apply. The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has been running bogus ads claiming this bill package is about doves. This package was never about doves. It’s bigger than that and fundamental to how we manage wildlife in Michigan. These bills won’t undo the 2006 dove vote, but they’ll make sure HSUS can’t use the same kind of false advertising to take away other hunting rights.
Senator Tom Casperson (R – Escanaba) – the bills’ sponsor – gave an impassioned speech on the Senate floor where he said that SB 288 upholds the will expressed by voters through 1996’s Proposal G to manage wildlife using sound science. He also told his fellow Senators about the town of Ironwood, in his district, which has had 91 wolf nuisance complaints since 2010, according to the DNR, including wolves wandering into town limits, attacking pets in residential areas, and even “traveling in close proximity” to children waiting at bus stops and near playgrounds.
“I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t try to fix that,” said Casperson.
We’re halfway there, folks, but only halfway there. If we want this to pass the House of Representatives, we have to magnify our efforts and really light up their phone lines. You know that HSUS and the rest of the anti-hunters will be doing their best to stop these bills: We need to do even better!
The vote tally for SB 288 in the Senate was along party lines, with all Republicans voting “Aye,” all Democrats voting “Nay,” and one Senator absent and not voting (Sen. Bruce Caswell – R). The House version of the legislation, however, had five Democratic co-sponsors and a number of others supportive, and we’re hopeful that House Democrats will put conservation ahead of politics to support scientific wildlife management!