A new constitutional amendment proposal from state hunting and fishing enthusiasts will be on the ballot thanks to the Senate agreeing to a House joint resolution (HJR 1157) on the issue.
“It’s really hard to believe that there are states that are outlawing fishing and hunting,” Bradenton Republican Sen. Jim Boyd said. “Florida will not be one of those states.”
Democratic Sen. Bobby Powell wondered about the need for such legislation, as he hadn’t seen any movements within Florida to pose a real threat to people’s right to hunt and fish.
“I haven’t seen it happening anywhere in the state of Florida,” Powell said. “I don’t know where it’s happening nationally. I’m going to be in support of this legislation today based on the fact that I don’t see it happening here.”
Lake Mary Republican Sen. Jason Brodeur pointed him in the direction of efforts in Oregon.
The advocacy group International Order of T. Roosevelt, which backs the amendment, argues it’s necessary because of efforts like an Oregon ballot initiative that found support but fell 20,000 signatures short of the 112,000 necessary to make the ballot. The initiative would have banned hunting and fishing in the state.
“Hunting and fishing’s been a way of life not only for all of human civilization, but Florida in particular,” Brodeur said. “So, this would allow voters the opportunity to memorialize that in our constitution.”
The measure received second and third reading in the House earlier this week, passing without a “no” vote. Senate Minority Leader Lauren Book, a Davie Democrat, was the only “no” vote in the Senate.
“HJR 1157 is about the heritage of Florida,” Naples Republican Rep. Lauren Melo said when the proposal passed the House.
“Many people don’t realize the economic value fishing and hunting provides our great state, combining just over $15 billion annually. People come from all over the world to catch our tarpon and snapper, and chase our turkeys and ducks. Passing this legislation is a powerful statement that we support and champion our fishing and hunting traditions, and we want to protect (them) for our future.”
Martha Guyas, Southeast Fisheries Policy Director for the American Sportfishing Association, noted a quarter of all American fishing manufacturers’ business occurs in Florida.
“Florida is an incredibly important state for the sportfishing industry and is considered the Fishing Capital of the World,” she said upon the resolution’s passage in the House.
“Our state attracts more than 4.3 million anglers who make fishing in Florida an economic engine that contributes nearly $14 billion in economic output and supports more than 120,000 jobs.”
House Speaker Paul Renner, a Palm Coast Republican, commended Melo for filing the resolution “in hopes of permanently preserving Floridians’ right to fish and hunt.”
“For generations, Floridians have used fishing and hunting as a means to provide for themselves and their families,” Renner said.
The bill would result in language on the ballot that states, “Proposing an amendment to the state constitution to preserve forever fishing and hunting, including by the use of traditional methods, as a public right and preferred means of responsibly managing and controlling fish and wildlife. Specifies that the amendment does not limit the authority granted to the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission under Section 9 of Article IV of the state constitution.”
A proposed constitutional amendment doesn’t require Gov. Ron DeSantis’ signature, and the measure will be placed on the November 2024 ballot since it cleared both chambers of the Legislature.
Proposed amendments must earn 60% support from voters to be added to the state constitution.
Florida actually has real problems which need attention!
April 28, 2023 at 9:26 pm
Putting this in the Florida Constitution is absurd and accomplishes absolutely nothing; no Legislature was ever planning to eliminate hunting and fishing, and petition groups would of course have every right to try and modify this. Since none actually have the intention of doing that, the only purpose seems to be to once again rile up certain segments of the voting population.
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