Wisconsin - A look at some of the Highlights of the Badger State’s 2020 Legislative Session

Contact: Nick Buggia, Upper Midwestern States Manager

During Wisconsin’s relatively short legislative session this year, Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) staff worked to stay in close communication with members of the Wisconsin Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus and in-state partners to monitor legislation in an effective and efficient manner. When the session ended, there were several CSF-supported bills that passed while several that were opposed did not. Below are some of the top legislative wins for sportsmen and women in Wisconsin.   

Prohibition on Hunting Contests (A 29 & S30) 

Assembly Bill 29 and Senate Bill 30 were introduced in February of 2019. The intent of the legislation was to ban any organized contest where the goal is to trap or kill wildlife, even though all participants are required to possess the proper licenses and follow all laws. These bills did exclude big buck contests and fishing tournaments. For the past year, CSF worked with the Caucus and our partners to oppose these bills and to explain why prohibitions on hunting contests are often based on emotion and not on science-based wildlife management practices. Fortunately, these bills never made it out of committee 

Firearm Company Investment Prohibition (A 269)

Introduced in July of 2019, Assembly Bill 269 would have prohibited the State of Wisconsin Investment Board from investing in securities of any company that manufactures or imports firearms, ammunition, or firearms accessories. It would have also required the state to devest in any firearm company that it was currently investing in. This bill also failed to make it out of committee. 

Crossbow Transportation (S 231)

Introduced in May of 2019, Senate Bill 231 allows an individual to carry a crossbow that is not cocked and loaded while operating an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) or utility terrain vehicle (UTV). Before this bill became law, an individual operating any of these vehicles would have to transport their unloaded crossbow in a case, which are often large and cumbersome. SB 231 will make the transportation of a crossbow simpler for hunters wanting to use ATV’s or UTV’s to access their hunting locations. This bill was signed by the Governor on February 5.     

First Time Fishing License Fee (S 383)

Senate Bill 383, introduced in August of 2019, creates a discounted fishing license fee of $4.25 for a first-time annual fishing license buyer. The purchaser of the license must be a resident of Wisconsin who is 16 or 17-years old or who is 65-years old or older. The discounted license should encourage participation in the sport by lowering the cost of entry while also allowing the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to continue to take advantage of federal matching funds through the American System of Conservation Funding. This bill was signed into law on March 3. 

Wisconsin’s 2019-2020 regular legislative session adjourned on March 7. However, CSF staff will continue to maintain contact with legislators, the Governor’s office, and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources staff to monitor policy issues on behalf of sportsmen and women in the Badger State. 

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Recently, Virginia has proposed legislation that would make the punishment for poaching, in their state, a 1-5 year prison sentence through HB-449. Poaching undermines the social acceptance of hunters, jobs, recreation, local and state economies, and conservation efforts. How should poachers be punished?

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