By Dr. Dave Samuel, Conservation Editor
Photo by Bill Vaznis
One major objective of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) is to educate the 435 members of the U.S. House of Representatives and 100 members of the U.S. Senate about legislation that affects hunting, fishing, and conservation of fish and wildlife.
CSF Executive Director Melinda Gable notes that many of our Senators and Representatives belong to the federal Sportsmen’s Caucus, a group that has worked for sportsmen and women for many years. The federal caucus has been so successful that, three years ago, the CSF decided to take the concept to the state level, a move that only made sense because, as Director Gable noted, “There are 7,342 members of state legislatures. And last year, some 2,800 bills impacting hunting and fishing were introduced in state legislatures across the country — a 50 percent increase from 2003.”
Have sportsmen’s caucuses worked at the state level? You bet. In the past couple of years, state caucuses have helped get (or keep) dove seasons in Michigan and Minnesota, pushed for Sunday deer hunting in Maryland, and fought to maintain the right to hunt and fish on public lands in Illinois. Currently, 21 state sportsmen’s caucuses involve more than 1,500 legislators in hunting and fishing issues.
The huge success of these state caucuses led to the first National Assembly of Sportsmen’s Caucuses (NASC) in Texas in December 2004. This assembly was a group effort that included Founding Partners from national hunting and fishing organizations, state and local grassroots organizations, and the outdoor industry. Founders include the Safari Club International, the National Wild Turkey Federation, Bass Pro Shops, Cabela’s, Comcast, International Paper, the National Marine Manufacturer’s Association, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, UST, the Hunting and Shooting Sports Heritage Fund, and the National Association of Sporting Goods Wholesalers.
Twenty-three state legislators took part in the summit in Texas to outline the mission, goals, and objectives of the NASC as well as to adopt bylaws and elect an Executive Council. We all need to support the legislators who support us. Some of the key representatives are: Senator John Astle (D-MD), Senator Pat Pariseau (R-MN), Representative Dan Reitz (D-IL), Representative Baxter Troutman (R-FL), Representative Ray Allen (R-TX), Representative Marc Gergely (D-PA), Senator Dennis Hollingsworth (R-CA), Senator David Langhorst (D-ID), Senator Michelle McManus (R-MI), and Senator Ruth Whitaker (R-AR).
The NASC is helping to form new sportsmen’s caucuses and is providing a network for state caucuses to work together. This whole concept is great, because it provides a network for passing prohunting legislation from one state to the next. To find out whether your state has a caucus and how you or your organization can help, go to www.sportsmenslink.org or call (202) 543-6850.
All Arrows Get Equal Treatment
Since 1997, foreign arrow companies, and companies importing arrows into the United States, have not had to pay the 12.4 percent federal excise tax on arrow sales that U.S. arrow manufacturers pay. That means that more than $14 million in arrow sales each year were not taxed, a situation that eventually would force all arrow manufacturers to go overseas just to stay competitive. And from 1997 to today hunters lost over $6 million in excise taxes that should have gone to wildlife management programs.
The tax loophole has now been closed. While leading the effort, the Archery Trade Association received great bipartisan support from Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), Rep. Jim Matheson (D-UT), Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT). All helped get a provision in the 2004 Jobs Bill that closed the loophole so that all arrow sales are taxed equally. This provision also eliminated taxes on light-draw youth bows, making such bows less expensive and thus helping to bring more youngsters into bowhunting and archery. Everyone involved deserves a special thanks from all of America’s bowhunters.
For further information on the issues discussed, go to www.knowhunting.com.
From our May-June 2005 issue.