Virginia’s General Assembly session got started this week.
Who cares, right? I mean, it’s just a bunch of politicians trying to repay their campaign donors and friends with special favors, isn’t it?
Well, maybe sort of.
But since I started really paying attention to the General Assesmbly — and, admittedly, it wasn’t until I had to keep up with their proposals that affected my beat — I’ve become pretty fascinated with the General Assembly. Some of the GA’s antics can be pretty interesting. Even downright entertaining.
This session many folks expect the topic of Sunday hunting to be a big deal.
We all know that the Sunday hunting ban comes up every session in some way, shape or form. And it quickly gets killed.
There was some thinking that Sunday hunting bills might have a little more momentum than usual last year when influential groups such as the National Shooting Sports Foundation put a public lobbying effort, albeit a last-minute one, behind efforts to lift the ban. Alas, Sunday hunting was shot down as quickly as usual.
This year the NSSF, NRA and other groups got started earlier. And sportsmen against the ban are more organized than ever. Even the DGIF’s board finally took a stance, saying it’s time for the ban to ride off into the sunset.
A couple of bills to overturn the ban have been introduced so far. Senate Bill 151, introduced by Sen. Phillip Puckett, D-Tazewell, completely lifts the ban. Senate Bill173, from Sen. J. Chapman Petersen, D-Fairfax, would allow Sunday hunting on private land only.
I’m working with our Richmond reporter on a piece on the Sunday hunting ban, efforts to overturn it and efforts to keep it in place.
One thing I need is to talk to some private landowners who are in favor of the ban, as well as some who would like to see it lifted. If anyone has a suggestion for a landowner who has particularly strong feelings either way, please e-mail the info to me at email@example.com.
Of course feel free to post your own thoughts on the Sunday hunting ban below.
I’d also like to hear opinions on House Bill 150, one of the more interesting proposals to come out yet. This one would direct the DGIF board to establish policies that would forbid conservation police officers from hunting or fishing in their area of patrol.
I have a call into the office so Del. Margaret Ransone, R-Kinsale, the bill’s patron, to inquire about the rationale behind the proposal. Having not heard back I can only speculate for now, and I suspect it has to do with concern about potential conflicts of interest. By that I mean there could be a perception that a landowner who gives a CPO permission to hunt or fish will get special treatment by that CPO. You know, extra patrols, etc. I could see why there could be a concern about that, but this bill seems pretty extreme and I would be shocked if it gets very far.
I’ll be touching on a few of the bills in a notebook on tomorrow’s Outdoors page in The Roanoke Times. You can find a full rundown of hunting-, fishing- and boating-related bills on the DGIF web site.