A Look Back at Massachusetts’ Legislative Session: Sportsmen’s Issues in the Spotlight

Contact: Joe Bachar, New England States Coordinator

  • Massachusetts’ General Court adjourned last Monday, August 1, marking the end to formal sessions that saw several different priority sportsmen’s issues arise.
  • The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) weighed-in on numerous policies, including (but not limited to):
    • Supporting legislation that would have lessened or removed restrictions on Sunday hunting (died after failing to clear Committee)
    • Opposing bills that would have implemented duplicative kennel licensure and inspection requirements for owners of “personal kennels” (died after reporting out of committee)
    • Legislation that would enter Massachusetts into the Interstate Wildlife Violators Compact (currently on the Governor’s Desk)
  • Throughout sessions, CSF worked alongside the Massachusetts Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus and in-state partners to protect and advance the Bay State’s outdoor sporting traditions.

Why It Matters: Since its founding, CSF has continuously fought to protect and advance outdoor sporting heritages across the country. This year in Massachusetts, CSF worked in conjunction with the Massachusetts Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus towards the protection and advancement of pro-sportsmen’s heritages in the state. Engaging in over a dozen opportunities, CSF has testified, submitted written comments, and otherwise provided educational deliverables to members of the General Court and in-state and national partners operating out of the Bay State. Heading into the second half of 2022 and the start of 2023, there is little doubt that sportsmen’s issues will remain front in center in Massachusetts.

There is no question that 2022 started off strong in Massachusetts. In January, CSF’s Northeastern States Manager Joe Mullin testified during a Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources, and Agriculture hearing on a variety of bills pertaining to sportsmen’s interests, including Sunday hunting, crossbow use expansions for hunting, the Outdoor Heritage Act, and reimbursing the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife for lost revenue from free and discounted licenses. On the Sunday hunting front, Massachusetts is one of the two remaining states with an outright ban on seven-day hunting opportunities – a consequence of an outdated “blue law” meant to facilitate church attendance. Although this bill was not enacted, CSF will continue to fight this archaic restriction that unfairly limit sportsmen and women.

As was previously reported, CSF was engaged in an effort to thwart Senate Bill 2994 (S. 2994) – an overtly restrictive kennel bill. Since then, the House Committee on Ways and Means choose not to take up S. 2994, effectively killing the bill. Originally meant to regulate dog daycare facilities to ensure the safety of dogs and puppies, S. 2994 would have had wide-sweeping effects for dog owners across the state by requiring individuals who owned 5 or more dogs to obtain a “personal kennel” license, in addition to the licenses required for each individual dog. It also would have implemented mandatory annual kennel inspections, subjecting non-commercial dog owners to the same standards as commercial kennels. CSF worked with leaders of the Massachusetts Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus and the American Kennel Club to oppose this restrictive legislation, which was ultimately defeated.

Last, but certainly not least, CSF has been coordinating with key in-state contacts on S. 2993 – a bipartisan bill that will increase penalties and fines for criminals that exploit wildlife in Massachusetts, as well as make Massachusetts the 50th state to join the Interstate Wildlife Violators Compact (IWVC). CSF has long supported Massachusetts’ joining of the IWVC – an agreement among member states to share information regarding wildlife violations such that violations in one state may result in consequences in other member states. Massachusetts is the last remaining state that is not a member. Currently, S. 2993 sits on Governor Baker’s desk.

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