What the Maine legislature did do, didn’t do, and ought to have done

State House Augusta Maine 3_JPGBy anyone’s definition, the 2014 legislative session was ugly, partisan, and disappointing. But under the radar off the field of battle, some things were accomplished of special interest to sportsmen.

The only remarkable achievement for the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee was the extension of protection to another 235 wild and native trout waters. Eight years of contentious debate was ended with a thoughtful compromise – an especially good job done on this one by the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

Also interesting was the shifting of half of DIF&W’s revenue from the invasive species sticker to the DEP’s invasives program. That money was going to the Warden Service, and the loss was made up by taking money out of the DIF&W’s surplus account.

My biggest disappointment was the defeat of the comprehensive hunting license bill. It was a bill that Representative Dennis Keschl submitted at my request, to eliminate all of the hunting licenses and permits and create a single comprehensive hunting license. We’ll have it someday.

The Natural Resources Committee achieved a nice victory on the gold dredging bill – protecting some of our most important native brook trout waters with that compromise measure.

A bill that sought to fix a bunch of problems with the discontinued roads laws and rules was defeated – a real shame because a lot of work went into the bill, and public access over these roads is a very important issue – and one that will get even more important as the years go by. The Small Woodland Owners Association of Maine has already announced that it will submit a bill on this topic in 2015.

DIF&W has a nice summary of law changes enacted in 2014, on their website. Here is the direct link to the report:

http://www.maine.gov/ifw/pdfs/FINAL%202014LegislativeSummary05232014.pdf

 

George Smith

About George Smith

George stepped down at the end of 2010 after 18 years as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time. He writes a weekly editorial page column in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel, a weekly travel column in those same newspapers (with his wife Linda), monthly columns in The Maine Sportsman magazine, two outdoor news blogs (one on his website, georgesmithmaine.com, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. George also hosts, with Harry Vanderweide, a TV talk show called Wildfire, now in its 13th year and focused on hunting, fishing, environmental, and conservation issues. The show is owned and produced by Maine Audubon and seen on its website as well as on the Time Warner cable TV station throughout the state.