Audio – Senator Keith Ingram Reporting News From 91st General Assembly
October 19th, 2017 • News

October 19, 2017- Senator Keith Ingram audio report of news from the 91st General Assembly.

  • When I go duck hunting, the last thing on my mind is the state constitution. But we’ve reached a point in Arkansas where there are serious legal questions about which branch of government has the constitutional authority to enforce game and fish laws.
  • In 1944 Arkansas voters approved Amendment 35 to the state Constitution to create the Game and Fish Commission, and to make it independent of the legislature. But in 2014 Arkansas voters approved Amendment 92, which grants to the legislature the authority to review and approve state agency regulations. Why should hunters, fishermen and ordinary people care about this ongoing legal question? For one thing, it could affect the price hunting and fishing licenses.
  • Back in the 1980s the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and the legislature went to court over a very similar legal dispute. It started when the commission raised the price of a sportsmen’s license to $25, and required deer hunters to buy the special permit.
    Deer hunters were angered by the sudden jump in the cost of a license, and the legislature enacted a law setting the cost of a deer hunting license back to $10.50. The Game and Fish Commission sued. The Supreme Court upheld the legislature’s power to set the price of fishing and hunting licenses, but it also ruled that the legislature could not infringe on the Game and Fish Commission’s authority to issue hunting and fishing regulations.
  • Since then, voters have approved Amendment 92 granting the legislature broad authority to approve state agency rules and regulations. It’s an interesting question for political scientists, civics teachers and people who keep up with politics and government. Legislators answer to voters. Members of the Game and Fish Commission do not; they’re appointed by the governor. However, the staff of the Game and Fish Commission has expertise in biology and habitat management.
  • I’m encouraged by a recent compromise between the two entities. Game and Fish agree to keep legislators informed about its decision making, and legislators agreed not to micro-manage wildlife management. The bureaucrats and lawyers are at peace, so when you’re out in the deer woods or in the duck blind, all you have to think about is hunting.
      Click to Listen - Audio Recording from October 19, 2017