George's Outdoor News

George’s new outdoor issues blog. He goes all over the state. He listens. And he reports on issues of concern to sportsmen, conservationists, and environmentalists.

DIF&W Constitutional amendment Hits Roadblock

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Six votes. That’s how close we were in the House today to enacting the Constitutional amendment that would give the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife a small percentage of the sales tax.

This is the most important piece of legislation for DIF&W in decades. You can read my newspaper editorial column about it here.

To get on the ballot, a Constitutional amendment must garner a two-thirds vote in both the House and the Senate. We did that last week in the Senate, getting exactly the 24 votes needed.

But today, House members cast 92 votes in favor, and 54 votes against. Ninety eight yes votes were needed. If the entire House is present, 101 votes are necessary.

Huge Issues Pending At Legislature

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This week brings clarity and finality to several huge issues for sportsmen and environmentalists at the legislature, and I’ll be there to keep you informed.

A Constitutional amendment that would give the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife 1.25 percent of the sales tax won an amazing victory last week in the Senate, and is now in process in the House where it has already moved through two readings.

I’ve been working with Senator Dave Trahan, Tom Abello of the Nature Conservancy, and others on this issue, and was ecstatic when we mustered just enough votes (24) in the Senate to achieve the required two-thirds needed to send a Constitutional amendment to the people for a referendum vote. That didn’t come easy, and someday I’ll write the entire story.

Dunlap Leaving SAM in September

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Matt Dunlap will be leaving his job as interim executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine in September.

 Dunlap moved from SAM’s board to the executive director’s job when the board fired the director it had hired when I stepped down last fall after serving for 18 years in that position. SAM was fortunate that Matt was available and I am disappointed that he will not be staying.

 I worked with Matt during his eight years in the legislature, where he was a champion for sportsmen and served on the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee. He also did a superb job as Maine’s Secretary of State, but when his Democratic colleagues lost their majority in the legislature last election, Matt was out of that job – and suddenly available to help SAM at a time when it desperately needed him.

 Dunlap made his decision to leave SAM without a new job in sight.

Quick Legislative Update

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A host of sportsmen’s issues are scheduled for debate and action this week, so I’ve started attending sessions of the Senate and House.

The bill that would allow game wardens to stop ATV riders without suspecting them of a law violation has been enacted and sent to the Governor. Several key people involved in this important issue are worried that the Governor may veto the bill, based on the Constitutional issue. If he does veto the bill, his veto is certain to be sustained in the Senate, where the bill was enacted by only a 3 vote margin. It takes two-thirds of each body to overturn a governor’s veto.

Raye's Deer Bill Wins Unanimous Vote

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The Maine Game Plan for Deer will get a significant boost with the adoption of LD 1569, the “deer bill” sponsored by Senate President Kevin Raye. The amended version of the bill won a unanimous “ought-to-pass” vote from members of the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife on Wednesday (May 25).

LD 1569 adds many elements to the Maine Game Plan for Deer announced a few months ago by the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

The amendment to LD 1569 embodies many of the recommendations created from a December workshop that I organized at the request of Senator David Trahan. Thirty six people participated in the workshop including five DIF&W staff members.

Quick Updates In and Out of Legislature

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Deer Bill

The work session of the IFW Committee on Senator Kevin Raye’s deer bill, LD 1569, has been moved from Thursday (May 26) to Wednesday (May 25), beginning at noon in Room 206 of the Cross Office Building. There was no opposition to the amended version of the bill at its public hearing, but we do expect committee members to have many questions before acting on the bill.


Yesterday’s work session of the ACF Committee on two bills concerning the Land Use Regulation Commission was postponed. The committee schedule calls for a work session today on the LURC bills starting at 1 pm.

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.

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