Contact: Kent Keene, Lower Midwestern States Coordinator
Across much of the Lower Midwestern region, the 2019 Legislative Sessions are coming to a close. As a result of work by the bipartisan legislative sportsmen’s caucuses across this region, supported by Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation staff, several pieces of pro-hunting and fishing legislation are set to become law.
Legislation highlights include:
- Arkansas SB 486 – Increases the annual fee for trout special permits from $5 to $10 per year to support hatchery improvements and the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.
- Missouri HB 260* – Imposes civil penalties for illegally chasing, pursuing, killing, processing, or disposing of wild turkey, paddlefish, white-tailed deer (excluding does), black bear, or elk. This bill creates increased penalties that apply to these species and may be ordered in addition to penalties already provided in Missouri code.
- Oklahoma HB 1150 – Expands the projects eligible to receive conservation cost-share funds to include projects designed to reduce feral swine populations using electronic hog traps.
- Texas HB 337 (Kali’s Law) – Requires the use of emergency engine cutoff switches on recreational motor boats less than 26 feet in length.
- Texas HB 547 – Allows hunters to verify possession of a hunting license as an image displayed on a wireless communication device.
- Texas HB 1824 – Directs that no less than 70% of the funds collected through the sale of marl, sand, gravel, shell, and mudshell will be used for the construction and maintenance of fish hatcheries, or the enhancement, preservation, and restoration of fish habitat in rivers and streams.
*MO HB 260 has not been signed by Governor Parson. The Missouri Governor’s Deadline is July 14th.
Additionally, several anti-sportsmen’s bills were defeated in the region during the recent Legislative Sessions.
Highlights include the bills below:
- Iowa HB 113* – Required the use of non-toxic shot for dove hunting.
- Missouri HB 778 – Required legislative approval for state agencies to purchase land.
- Missouri HJR 18 – Proposed constitutional amendment that would require the conservation sales tax be renewed by voters every six years. Missouri’s conservation sales tax that was approved by the voters in 1976 is a consistent complement to the American System of Conservation Funding and provides more than $100 million annually to the Missouri Department of Conservation.
- Missouri HJR 52 – Removed conservation commission authority over animals born and held in captivity (including captive cervids).
- Nebraska LB 46* – Eliminated mountain lion hunting.
- Nebraska LB 126* – Created special landowner deer permits to be used during a landowner deer season. Nebraska's sportsmen's community widely disapproved of this bill and the expansion of no-cost landowner permits, which would have resulted in lost revenue to the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.
- Oklahoma SB 567*– Prevented a game warden from entering private property without permission based on the suspicion of possible possession or discharge of a firearm.
- Oklahoma SB 984 – Created a landowner combination hunting and fishing license available for purchase by both residents and nonresidents. Currently, nonresident landowners are required to buy a full-price nonresident permit to hunt and fish. This bill would have drastically reduced these costs, resulting in a decrease in revenue to the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
*Bill did not pass during the 2019 Legislative Session but is eligible for carryover into the 2020 Session.
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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%)