Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus Member Introduces Hearing Protection Act in 117th Congress
On January 4, Representative Jeff Duncan (SC), a former Co-Chair of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) reintroduced the Hearing Protection Act (HPA) as H.R. 95.
The overall intent of the HPA remains to remove firearm suppressors from the purview of the National Firearms Act, while still providing a background check process, thereby improving access to these hearing safety devices for America’s sportsmen and women. However, it is not only America’s hunters and recreational shooters that would benefit from this legislation as state fish and wildlife agencies –largely responsible for conserving fish and wildlife across the country – would benefit as well. Included in the HPA is a clause that would add firearm suppressors to the list of taxable items (at 10%) under the Pittman-Robertson Act – one of the primary pillars of the American System of Conservation Funding (ASCF). This “user-pays, public-benefits” program is a sportsmen and women driven model that provides the majority of funds that state fish and wildlife agencies utilize to carry out their critical conservation work. Expanding this funding model through the addition of suppressors will provide additional resources for these agencies that will result in real benefits for on-the-ground conservation throughout the nation.
The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation commends Rep. Duncan and the many other CSC members who signed on as original co-sponsors for their dedication to this important issue.
CSF Supports Increased Access for Sportsmen and Women on Big Cypress National Preserve in Florida
On December 15, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) submitted a letter to the National Park Service (NPS) in support of Alternative 5 of the Big Cypress National Preserve Backcountry Access Plan / Environmental Impact Statement (Plan).
Alternative 5 is the NPS’s preferred alternative that would reopen 66 miles of primary off-road vehicle (ORV) trails and 154 miles of secondary ORV trails. This increase in access would not only benefit Florida’s sportsmen and women, but it would also assist in the management of natural resources located within Big Cypress National Preserve (Preserve). Off highway vehicles can be an important tool for accessing backcountry destinations, managing wildlife habitat, and giving youth, elderly, and those with mobility limitations the opportunity to participate in outdoor recreation.
CSF’s letter stated, “By reopening 66 miles of primary ORV trails and 154 miles of secondary ORV trails, Alternative 5 would significantly increase access across the 729,000-acre Preserve. As noted in the Plan, these trails would impact less than 0.1% of the Preserve with most of the trail mileage traversing highly resilient to resilient substrates. We therefore believe that Alternative 5 strikes the appropriate balance between minimizing impacts to the Preserve’s natural resources while providing important access for sportsmen and women.”
The public comment period for the Plan closed on December 15. CSF will continue to be engaged on this issue as the NPS reviews public comment and prepares the final Plan.
CSF Supports Proposed Change to Turkey Shot Size Requirements in Nebraska
Members of the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission (Commission) are scheduled to meet on January 12 and 13 for their first meeting of 2021. Ahead of this meeting, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation submitted a formal letter of support for a proposed amendment to Nebraska’s shot size requirements for turkey hunters, removing the lower shot size limit that is currently in place. This is one of many proposed changes the Commission will be considering at their meeting.
Currently, Nebraska’s turkey hunters are permitted to utilize shotshells that are loaded with shot sized between #2 and #7.5. However, recent technological advances in shotshells, including the development and utilization of tungsten super shot (TSS), have led to the creation of ethical and effective turkey shotshells that are loaded with shot as small as #9.
Removing the lower limit on the size of shot that may be used for turkey hunting will provide opportunities for youth and smaller-framed hunters to use shotguns chambered as small as .410-bore, which produce less recoil than many shotguns traditionally used by turkey hunters (e.g., 20-guage and 12-guage). As stated in the letter, opportunities such as this that make hunting more accessible are critical to the success of hunter recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) efforts designed to encourage more hunter participation.
More information on this proposed regulatory change, as well as all the proposals that the Commission will consider during their January meeting, can be found here.
Nine Midwestern States Bills to Keep an Eye on in 2021
Coming off a challenging year for all, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) is excited for the opportunities that await in 2021. With several states gaveled in for the 2021 legislative session, members of CSF’s Midwest States Program Team are hard at work tracking bills and working with state sportsmen’s caucuses in support of hunting, fishing, recreational shooting, and trapping. While many more legislative priorities will arise as more legislatures begin their 2021 sessions, the following bills are just a few of those introduced thus far:
Indiana Senate Bill 49, sponsored by Indiana Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chair Senator James Tomes, is a version of the Firearms Industry Nondiscrimination (FIND) Act, that would protect manufacturers of firearms, firearms accessories, or ammunition; retailers selling firearms, firearms accessories, or ammunition; distributors of firearms, firearms accessories, or ammunition; shooting ranges; and trade associations from discrimination by financial and government institutions.
Missouri HB369 and SB301:
As previously reported, House Bill 369 and Senate Bill 301 seek to define liability standards for landowners and certified prescribed burn managers using prescribed fire on private properties. Defining liability standards would alleviate the concerns shared by many landowners who are hesitant to employ prescribed fire on their properties, which can have substantial benefits for wildlife.
Missouri HJR23, SJR3, and SJR16:
Missouri House Resolution 23 and Senate Resolutions 3 & 16 propose an amendment to the Missouri Constitution that would affirm and protect the rights of Missourians to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife. If passed, these proposed amendments would then be placed on the November 2022 ballot for ratification by Missouri’s voters.
North Dakota SB2036, SB2037 and SB2038:
This package of bills would continue the interim study of access to public and private lands for hunting, trapping, fishing, and related issues. It would also evaluate the recently developed electronic land access database and expand the database and application to all counties in the state. Finally, the bill also defines penalties for violators.
Again, this list is simply a preview of legislation that CSF will be engaging on throughout 2021 in the midwest. Stay tuned to future editions of The Sportsmen’s Voice for updates on these issues and more.
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