George Smith's blog

Week in Preview May 23, 2011

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While several key bills remain in committee work sessions, most are now in process through the House and Senate. This week, the top issue for sportsmen will be the ATV Stop bill.

This bill would allow game wardens to stop ATV riders without suspecting they are violating a law. After a lackluster debate in the House last Thursday, the bill won a strong 90 to 56 vote. It now goes to the Senate. With the support of all three Senators on the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee, the bill should sail through that body – although these days you can’t take anything for granted.

The IFW Committee has scheduled a work session for noon on Thursday (May 26) in Room 206 of the Cross Office Building on Senator Kevin Raye’s deer bill, LD 1569. The bill got a great reception at its public hearing on Friday. I’ll post a report on the hearing soon.

More Maine Moose Permits - Less Moose Lottery Chances

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If I were King of Maine moose, here’s what I’d do with the lottery and hunt.


1)      Double the permits

2)      Drive down the success rate to 50 percent

3)      Offer one chance per applicant at $5 for residents and $10 for nonresidents

Quick Updates From the Legislature and DIF&W

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Land Use Regulation Commission

Members of the Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry Committee heard 7 hours of testimony – much of it passionate – on bills that will impact Maine’s North Woods and 10 million acres of unorganized territories forever. You can read my account of the hearing in my blog.

The ACF Committee will work on the bills – focusing on a lengthy amendment – on Thursday (May 19) beginning at 1 pm in the Taxation Committee room (127 in the Capitol). If they don’t complete work on the LURC bills tomorrow, they’ll meet on Friday, with the place and time yet to be determined.

Major Changes in Maine Moose Lottery Endorsed

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Only days after panning a series of recommendations to radically restructure Maine’s moose lottery, the legislature’s Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee reversed course and endorsed many of the recommendations.

Key to the change in course was a proposal from Representative Mike Shaw that will increase the chances of winning for lottery applicants with the maximum number of points.  A point it issued each year that an applicant doesn’t win a moose permit, and represents a single chance in future lotteries.

Commissioner Chandler Woodcock was directed by the IFW Committee to submit recommendations for the moose lottery and hunt, and he convened a working group to help him develop recommendations for the moose lottery. Woodcock worked with his own staff to address the issue of increased permits.

Week in Preview May16, 2011

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The countdown to adjournment has begun. If this was a marathon, and in many ways it is, legislators have started to sprint to the finish line.

The problem is that they are still carrying too much weight, and the muscle cramps of what has been a long, tedious, and sometimes tumultuous session threaten to delay and derail the race.

Legislative committees have acted on nearly all bills, but only 1/3 of the session’s 1600 bills have completed the process in the House and Senate. Just 1000 bills to go!

And a few of those bills, especially the budget, are likely to demand a lot of time. The good news is that environmental bills – a focus of contention throughout the session – have so far been expertly handled in a bipartisan way that assures smooth sailing through the House and Senate.

Twenty Five Percent Increase in Moose Permits Coming

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A substantial 25 percent increase in Maine moose permits may be available for the 2011 hunt. DIF&W Deputy Commissioner Andrea Erskine delivered that exciting news to the legislature’s Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee on May 9.

 Erskine told the committee that a staff meeting scheduled for this morning (May 10) would confirm the increase and she plans to return to the committee tomorrow (May 11) with the final decision.

 Erskine told me she is working to expedite the rule-making process so the increased permits can be available this year, before the lottery drawing is held on June 18 at Cabala’s in Scarborough.

 But the recommendations of DIF&W’s adhoc Moose Lottery Working Group were not as well received by the committee.

Week in Preview May 9, 2011

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This week legislative committees face a deadline for finishing their work on all the bills before them. That’s a prodigious task for some committees, but the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee should have no problem disposing of all of its bills, with two exceptions.

 The committee’s work on deer issues awaits a bill to be submitted by Senate President Kevin Raye. Senator Dave Trahan has led two workshops on deer issues with other committee members and DIF&W staff. From that effort, proposals will be forthcoming to insert into Senator Raye’s bill. Those proposals will add elements and perhaps funding to DIF&W’s Maine Game Plan for Deer.

 Senator Trahan continues to work with DIF&W staff on hatchery issues, and will probably ask legislative leaders for an extension to allow that work to continue.

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