States Consider Hunting Rights

Published October 21, 2016

On November 8th, Indiana and Kansas voters will decide on a constitutional amendment that would reaffirm residents’ right to hunt, fish, and trap wildlife. Colorado, Iowa, Maine, Missouri, North Carolina, and West Virginia introduced legislation on this issue in 2016, but the measures did not pass. Other states will likely pursue legislative action on this issue in 2017. According to an article by Chicago Tribune writer Carrie Napoleon, “[S]imilar legislation is pending in Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey and New York.”

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 19 states have constitutional provisions guaranteeing the right to hunt and fish. Vermont has language in its constitutional provision, which was the first of its kind when it passed, dating back to 1777. California and Rhode Island have language in their constitutions guaranteeing the right to fish, but there isn’t a hunting guarantee.

The Institute for Legislative Action, which is run by the National Rifle Association, argues constitutional amendments guaranteeing the right to hunt and fish protect America’s rich outdoor heritage. It says without the amendments, hunters’ rights are at risk of falling victim to “well-funded, national anti-hunting groups that want to ban all hunting, trapping and fishing.”

Recently, Illinois Director of Natural Resources Wayne Rosenthal discussed the economic and environmental benefits of hunting in his state. “Hunters and anglers spend more than $2 billion per year, providing a boost to our state’s economy. They also help fund conservation of deer, turkeys, waterfowl and other wildlife by their purchases of hunting and fishing licenses.”

Managing Editor H. Sterling Burnett argues in a recent Environment & Climate News article the right to hunt and fish measures are justified: “Right to hunt and fish amendments have arisen in response to a number of issues, including hunting restrictions being introduced or enacted at the behest of animal rights organizations, increasing urbanization, decreasing habitat, and declining numbers of sportsmen.”

What We’re Working On

Budget & Tax
Research & Commentary: Ending Balance Amendment Worth a Look for Kansas
States across the country continue to struggle with balancing their year-to-year budgets because of increasing spending and a lagging national economy. Many state legislatures have also accumulated massive amounts of debt that taxpayers will have to pay as a result of years of overspending and unaffordable state employee pensions and benefits. According to a memo recently released by legislative researchers, Kansas, which is just two months into its fiscal year, is already experiencing a $20 million shortfall.

In this Research & Commentary, Senior Policy Analyst Matthew Glans examines Kansas’ ending balance law and argues it would force the state government to more closely monitor and limit state spending. “Strengthening the ending balance law would force the government to more closely monitor and limit state spending, thereby properly balancing the budget while limiting the need for future tax hikes,” wrote Glans. Read more

Research & Commentary: Texas Education Savings Accounts
In this Research & Commentary, Policy Analyst Tim Benson discusses plans by legislators to introduce education savings account (ESA) legislation during the 2017 session. In a state such as Texas, where private school choice is practically nonexistent, Benson argues the creation of a universal ESA program, modeled on Nevada’s universal ESA plan, would go a long way toward remedying the Lone Star State’s lackluster record for educating its children. Read more

Energy & Environment
Research & Commentary: Nevada Energy Task Force Recommendations Will Hurt Consumers
Nevada’s New Energy Industry Task Force (NEITF) recently released its long-awaited list of recommendations for legislation to be proposed during the upcoming legislative session. Among NEITF’s 20 recommendations are the reestablishment of retail-rate net metering for new solar customers and a proposed mandate that would require utility companies and energy providers to source 50 percent of their energy from renewable energy sources by 2040. In this Research & Commentary, Policy Analyst Tim Benson writes these recommendations are counterproductive and will negatively impact Nevada consumers. Instead, Benson argues the best policy option is to repeal all renewable portfolio standard mandates, net metering, and energy subsidies. This would create a freer, consumer-friendly energy market in which all utilities and all energy providers are given the right to compete for customers. It would also lower electricity prices, raise living standards, stimulate long-term economic growth, and create a substantial increase in net jobs for Nevada. Read more

Health Care
Research & Commentary: Certificate of Need Laws Hurt Hospital Quality
In this Research & Commentary, Senior Policy Analyst Matthew Glans examines certificate of need laws and their effect on hospital quality. “CON laws increase the cost of health care while limiting access and benefitting those with political connections. The unintended consequences of CON laws have led many experts to call for reform or repeal of these policies. Eliminating certificate of need would move a state away from these outdated, ineffective policies and help to bring market principles back to the health care industry,” Glans wrote. Read more

From Our Free-Market Friends
The National Association of Scholars Hosts 2017 Conference
The National Association of Scholars (NAS) will celebrate its 30th anniversary with a conference in Oklahoma City on January 21, 2017. For the last three decades, NAS has been higher education’s strongest defender and has worked hard to protect intellectual freedom, the pursuit of truth, and virtuous citizenship. The January conference, titled “Securing Liberty: Rebuilding American Education in an Era of Illiberal Learning,” features a keynote address by historian Paul Rahe. The conference will also host sessions on the politicization of civics education, a battle with the College Board over its gutting of Advanced Placement U.S. and European history, the rise of the sustainability movement, the regnant regime of diversity and racial preferences, college common reading assignments, and the Department of Education’s redefinition of sexual assault and invention of new transgender rights. Read more