Contact: Joseph Mullin, New England States Coordinator
The 2019 regular sessions in Connecticut came to a close last month, bringing an end to a highly active legislative period.
The Connecticut Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus met numerous times throughout sessions, gathering nearly each month to discuss key bills and Caucus priorities – setting the pace for what proved to be a defensive year for sportsmen and women in the Nutmeg State. In early January, the Caucus re-elected Senators Craig Miner and Cathy Osten, and Representative Linda Orange to their respective leadership positions as Caucus Co-Chairs. Garnering the unwavering support of his peers, Representative David Wilson was elected to fill the fourth Co-Chair position. Rep. Wilson attended the 2018 National Assembly of Sportsmen’s Caucuses Sportsman-Legislator Summit (NASC) and returned to Connecticut with an enthusiastic and engaged approach to the 2019 legislative sessions, further proving the effectiveness that the NASC Summit has in facilitating stronger future Caucus engagement.
On March 15, the Caucus took part in facilitating Sportsmen’s Day at the Capitol – an event in which the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) participated. Several in-state and national conservation organizations joined CSF in recognizing the important role that sportsmen and women play as Connecticut’s original conservationists.
On April 2, a Caucus game meat tasting reception was held in the Legislative Office Building’s atrium, emphasizing the important role that hunters play as food providers – both for their families and the community through game meat donation programs. Various forms of game meat were prepared through different recipes, freely offering those who may have been unfamiliar with hunting the opportunity to expand their palates and their understanding of the crucial role that sportsmen and women have as sources of state-level conservation funding.
Among the states in northeastern region, Connecticut faced the highest percentage of anti-sportsmen legislation (49.06%). CSF worked in conjunction with the Caucus Co-Chairs to defeat many of these bills – both new and old. A few of the many bills that required such defensive measures include:
- House Bill 5394, “An Act Concerning the Sale and Trade of Ivory and Rhinoceros Horn in the State” – In mid-February, CSF submitted testimony to the Environment Committee in opposition to this letter. Ultimately, HB 5394 failed to meet the joint favorable deadline and died in regular sessions.
- Senate Bill 20, “An Act Prohibiting the Import, Sale and Possession of African Elephants, Lions, Leopards, Black Rhinoceros, White Rhinoceros and Giraffes” – CSF submitted written opposition to the Environment Committee and worked with the Caucus Co-Chairs in an attempt to stop this bill from gaining traction. As the bill gathered party support, CSF President Jeff Crane took part in a sign-on letter to Department of the Interior Secretary Bernhardt, with other national conservation organizations, requesting that he contact Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont regarding the legal implications that this bill would cause. CSF also worked with numerous in-state and national organizations in a separate sign-on letter, urging Gov. Lamont not to sign the bill, should it reach his desk. In the end, this bill failed to pass.
- Senate Bill 245, “An Act Prohibiting Hunting Along the Quinnipiac River in New Haven” – This particular bill is a reappearing piece of legislation that CSF has worked with the Caucus Co-Chairs to fight in previous years. This time, CSF worked with numerous other conservation organizations to submit sign-on letters of opposition to members of the Environment Committee, then to the State Senate in its entirety. Through these efforts, the bill failed to pass.
There were several other pieces of legislation CSF and the Caucus fought against including: permitting municipal regulation of trapping and hunting (House Bill 5272), the prohibition of leghold traps (House Bill 6443), and a 50% tax on ammunition. Having these bills fail during regular sessions marks significant wins for the State’s sportsmen and women.
CSF applauds the Connecticut Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus for its valiant efforts in hosting successful pro-sportsmen events, while also defeating the many anti-sportsmen bills that were proposed over the few months. Looking to the future, the Caucus has strong leadership which will continue to assist it in protecting and advancing hunting, angling, recreational shooting, and trapping opportunities across the state.
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- Improve hunter and target shooter involvement in regulatory and legislative processes. (13.75%)
- Enact or expand temporary hunter education deferral programs (apprentice license programs, multiyear options, programs for all first-time hunters regardless of age, and programs promoting hunting of multiple game species). (11.25%)
- Offer shooting sports and hunter education as school activities and recreation programs. (61.25%)
- Link existing programming into family-oriented organizations (such as churches and home-school groups) where participants will have the social support to continue. (13.75%)