Contact: John Culclasure, Southeastern States Assistant Director
Many state legislatures in the Southeast were in session during the first couple months of the year while other state legislatures were just getting started when COVID-19 caused many legislatures to go into recess. Nevertheless, members of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundations’ (CSF) States Program Team continue to monitor legislation and regulatory rulemaking throughout the region. Below are a few legislative highlights from the Southeast that CSF continues to work on in 2020.
Kentucky: Conservation Funding
On January 28, the state’s budget bill was introduced that contained a $5.5 million cut to the state fish and wildlife agency’s budget from funding generated through boater registration fees. The fees were increased in 2017 to provide additional revenue for Asian carp abatement efforts, boater access improvements and enforcement activities. After the recreational angler and boater community pushed back against the budget cut, the bill was amended on March 6 to restore full funding to the state fish and wildlife agency. Asian carp (bighead, black, grass and silver) are invasive species that are negatively impacting fisheries, boaters and local economies, and the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) is engaged in various efforts at the state and federal level to combat the spread of Asian carp.
Louisiana: Wild Game Donations
On March 9, Louisiana Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chair Speaker Clay Schexnayder introduced legislation that would expand the game meat donation liability exemption statute to include feral hogs in the definition of “wild game.” Game meat donation programs work with processers and hunters to provide wild game, generally venison, to food shelters and other charities that serve families in need, and HB 35 would allow feral hogs to be donated as well. CSF will be tracking this legislation once the legislature reconvenes following recess for COVID-19.
South Carolina: Apprentice Hunting Licenses
On April 3 of last year, legislation that would remove the one-year limitation on apprentice hunting licensespassed the House of Representatives. The original version of the bill would have expanded the apprentice hunting allowance to three years, but the bill was subsequently amended to remove all year limitations. Sponsored by South Carolina Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Member Representative Bobby Cox, HB 3800 was scheduled to be heard in the Senate Fish, Game and Forestry Subcommittee on March 19, but the legislature is in recess due to COVID-19. The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation looks forward to working with partners and the Caucus to advance the legislation once the legislature reconvenes.
Tennessee: Food Donations Standards
On March 20, Governors Sportsmen’s Caucus member Governor Bill Lee signed legislation into law that strengthens the game meat donation liability exemption statute for venison donated through a game meat donation program by increasing the liability standard from negligence to gross negligence. The legislation also expands the liability protections to include venison donated directly to an individual for personal use. In 2019, the Tennessee Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus donated $5,000 to the Hunters for the Hungry program.
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?