DIF&W Constitutional Amendment Wins!

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The Maine House of Representatives finally gave our Constitutional amendment to give DIF&W 1.2 percent of the sales tax revenue a victory today, but it didn’t come easy. Early this afternoon we fell 5 votes short of the two-thirds we needed.

But the House Republican leadership came through to keep the bill alive, table it, and give us more time to round up votes. We worked on that for a couple of hours, they pushed it hard in the Republican caucus, and at the end of the afternoon, when we were pretty sure we had the votes, they interrupted work on the budget to cast a roll call vote on the amendment

The vote was 99 in favor and 47 opposed, giving us the two-thirds we needed. What a great victory!

 The amendment got the necessary two-thirds vote in the Senate last week.

DIF&W Constitutional Amendment Awaits House Vote

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Our work over the last five months on a Constitutional amendment that would give the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife a small percentage of sales tax revenue will come to and end either today or tomorrow.

We’ve never been this close, and the wait is excruciating. I’ve been at the legislature every day, lobbying for this along with a coalition of groups and our leader, Senator David Trahan, the sponsor of the bill.

The last few weeks, the effort to win the required two-thirds vote in the House and Senate has been intense. I plan to write the entire story soon.

But here’s where we are at this moment, 4 pm, Monday afternoon. In the last Senate vote on the Constitutional amendment we increased our support to 28 yes votes, four more than we needed. We’re looking really good there.

ATV Bill Enacted Without Governor's Signature

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A controversial bill that allows game wardens to stop and question ATV riders without suspecting them of violating a law has been enacted without the Governor’s signature.

Tom Doak over at the Small Woodland Owners Association of Maine must be doing a jig around his office today. Mission accomplished. This bill has been a top priority for SWOAM for three years.

Last year game wardens sited only 56 ATV riders for operating on private land without permission. That could change now that wardens have the authority they sought to stop ATV riders anywhere anytime without suspecting they are violating any laws.

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.

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