Contact: Kent Keene, Assistant Manager, Lower Midwestern States and Agriculture Policy
Why it matters: As sessions wind down, legislation tends to move quickly. Recently, Oklahoma has seen several pro-sportsmen bills make progress while other poorly worded bills have been defeated. As session continues to draw to a close, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) will remain engaged in our ongoing effort to protect and advance the time-honored traditions of America’s sportsmen and women.
On May 4, Governors Sportsmen’s Caucus Member Governor Kevin Stitt signed into law Senate Bill 1696 (SB 1696), a longstanding priority for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife and Conservation (ODWC) and members of the Sooner State’s sportsmen’s community. SB 1696 amends the state’s hunting and angling license structure by creating 365-day licenses that expire exactly one year from the date of purchase. Currently, hunting and angling licenses expire on pre-established dates which has created some confusion within the sportsmen’s community. A 365-day license simplifies the license structure immensely, meaning that sportsmen and women can spend more time engaged in our time-honored traditions.
While the passage of SB 1696 represents a victory, other pieces of pro-sportsmen legislation remain pending. These include Senate Bill 1571, a bill introduced by Oklahoma Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chair and NASC Executive Council Member Senator Mark Allen that would legalize the use of airbows for deer hunting during Oklahoma’s firearms hunting seasons. As reported previously, CSF submitted a letter of support for SB 1571 which now awaits concurrence with House amendments before it can be passed. Once passed, SB 1571 will take effect immediately.
Other pro-sportsmen bills, including House Bill 3144 – an Oklahoma version of the Firearms Industry Nondiscrimination (FIND) Act – will be heard in Conference Committee as members of both the House and Senate compromise on the final language of this bill. Finally, House Bill 3280, which CSF previously reported on, has been defeated after failing to receive a hearing in the Senate.
Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?