A torrent of legislation is flowing our way, promising a challenging, entertaining, and (maybe) productive legislative session.
I’ve done my part by proposing six bills, focused on expanding Maine’s outdoor economy and our hunting and fishing opportunities. This week you can read about my six bills in the Outdoor News blog on my website: www.georgesmithmaine.com.
In January, legislative committees will immediately begin working on supplemental budgets that cut government spending, with the promise of even greater difficulty ahead when a new two-year budget must be adopted. My prediction: the natural resource agencies will continue to get squeezed, unable to compete with health and human services and education for public funding.
There will be plenty of bills of interest to outdoor enthusiasts. Although we won’t get even the bill titles until after January 18, the last day that legislators can submit bills, I’m already hearing about many proposals.
A northern Maine legislator has submitted a bill that would allow junior hunters to shoot doe deer on Youth Day – a proposal that the Fish and Wildlife Advisory Council rejected in 2011 and 2012.
The Maine Snowmobile Association is offering a resolve directing the Commissioner of the Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry Department to review its snowmobile program and suggest ways the program can be improved.
MSA members are also working on a bill to increase snowmobile registration fees for those who fail to register their machines before December 15. After that date, fees would increase by $20 for both residents and nonresidents.
Maine Audubon is proposing legislation to ban the sale and use of lead sinkers and jigs that weigh one ounce or less or measure 2 ½ inches or less in length, to protect loons that are dying by ingesting these sinkers and jigs.
The Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine has submitted 9 or 10 bills, and the Environmental Priorities Coalition will identify its priority bills and issues next week.
As the session progresses, I’ll be there on a regular basis to keep you posted.