There may not be many good things coming from the pandemic, which has affected just about everything, but it did curtail the legislature from continuing its session!
Yes, there have been good legislative actions, such as passage of the Knowles/Nelson Stewardship Program and approving state duck, pheasant and turkey stamps to fund management of those species.
But legislators think they know it all and they want to set more rules by statute, but if natural resources rules and regulations created by statute need to be changed it then requires the legislative process, which is slow, cumbersome and not a sure thing.
Originally legislators passed natural resource laws, until realizing it made sense to delegate conservation rules to the Conservation Commission, which is now the Natural Resources Board.
Now legislators continually try to claw back power and authority.
For instance, if the DNR or Natural Resources Board wanted to make changes in the following season regulations they could NOT without having the legislature meet and go through a lengthy process of debating and passing a bill:
- Opening date of the gun deer hunting season.
- Opening of the gamefish fishing season.
- Further restrictions on baiting and feeding of deer.
- Date that the opening of the wolf hunting season can begin.
- Opening of elk hunting season.
- Restrictions on crossing railroad tracks to hunt or fish on public lands.
It’s particularly frustrating to sit through a legislative committee hearing and hear a state legislator try to justify that DNR shouldn’t make the rules because “they are not elected.”
Legislators forget that DNR has input from trained ecologists AND citizens through public hearings AND the Conservation Congress.
Give me a break! Legislators need to relinquish their hunger for power and let professionals with knowledge manage natural resources. We can breathe a little easier now, even wearing a mask, with the legislature not meeting.