Movers and Shakers: Legislative Updates from the Midwest

Contacts: Chris Horton, Senior Director of Midwestern States and Fisheries Policy; Nick Buggia, Upper Midwestern States Manager; & Kent Keene, Senior Coordinator of Lower Midwestern States and Agriculture Policy

Highlights

  • Legislative sessions across the Midwest are progressing quickly, and several priorities for the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation’s (CSF) Midwestern team have reached the finish line or are on the move.
  • In the lower half of the region, prescribed fire liability bills are moving along while the Oklahoma Hunter Education in Schools resolution was unanimously approved by the Senate.
  • In Arkansas, Governors Sportsmen’s Caucus (GSC) Member Governor Asa Hutchinson signed Senate Bill 161 (SB 161) on April 1 to authorize school districts to teach Hunter Education in Arkansas’ public schools.
  • In the northern half of the region, several bad bills were defeated while a bill to continue a public access study in North Dakota was signed by GSC Member Governor Doug Burgum.

Why It Matters: As many of the Midwestern State’s legislative sessions are nearing their end, several priority bills have made progress throughout the region. While some of these bills, such as Missouri House Bill 369 (HB 369) and Senate Bill 301 (SB 301), and Oklahoma Senate Concurrent Resolution 5 (SCR 5) are still moving through the process, others, such as Arkansas Senate Bill 161 (SB 161) and North Dakota Senate Bill 2036 (SB 2036), have already crossed important finish lines. Sportsmen and women are encouraged to become engaged in the legislative process and join CSF in our mission to protect and advance hunting, angling, recreational shooting, and trapping. To track legislation related to our outdoor heritage, sign up for CSF’s legislative tracking software, Tracking the Capitols, here.

Since the Midwest’s January session preview, several key bills have made progress in their respective legislative sessions across the region. As a follow-up to that article, below are updates to some of the Midwest’s top priority bills for 2021. Stay tuned to The Sportsmen’s Voice or sign up for Tracking the Capitols for additional updates.

Missouri HB 369 and SB 301: Missouri’s prescribed burning acts, which seek to establish a prescribed burn manager certification and define liability standards for landowners and managers using prescribed fire on private lands, remains a priority for conservation partners in the Show-Me State. Currently, both bills await further consideration in the Senate after HB 369 passed out of the House in March.

Oklahoma SCR 5: The hunter education in school’s resolution led by the Oklahoma Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus’ Co-Chairs was unanimously approved by the Senate in March and now awaits its fate in the House of Representatives where it is expected to pass with similar support.

Indiana SB 266: CSF worked to correct, but ultimately opposed, Senate Bill 266 which would have restricted angling access within 200ft of shore. This bill failed to make it out of the House before the crossover deadline and was defeated. 

Minnesota House Bill 157 and Senate Bill 247: These bills, which would have banned the use of lead tackle, did not make it out of committee. Following efforts by CSF in working with the Minnesota Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus’ Co-Chairs, both bills were defeated.

North Dakota SB 2036: Signed by Governors Sportsmen’s Caucus (GSC) Member Governor Burgum on March 31, SB 2036 continues a study of access to public and private lands for hunting, trapping, and fishing for another year. The study must include an evaluation of the electronic land access database, and application, while expanding its use to all counties in the state.

Arkansas SB 161: Sponsored by Arkansas Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Member Senator Trent Garner and Arkansas Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chair Representative Jeff Wardlaw, this bill allows Arkansas’ public-school districts to offer hunter education as part of their curriculum. Following support within the legislature and sportsmen’s community, this bill was signed by GSC Member Governor Hutchinson on April 1.

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Recently, two Montana state representatives have proposed more aggressive legislation addressing the state's gray wolf population. These bills range from the addition of a wolf tag into big game combination tags, to year-round sanctioned harvest without a license, use of snare traps, and private reimbursement of wolf harvest. Currently, the wolf population in Montana sits at 850 wolves, which is 700 over the state’s minimum recovery goal of 150 wolves. Which of the below options for wolf management do you support? (Select all that apply)

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