‘Right to Hunt’ bill faces long haul
By Paula Piatt Associate Editor
Albany – Sure, it’s an uphill battle.
But Francine DelMonte’s move to amend the New York State
Constitution isn’t just about amending the constitution.
“I think the sportsmen are losing clout in Albany and I don’t
want to see that happen,” said Francine DelMonte, (D-Lewiston)
assemblywoman from the Niagara region and prime sponsor of a bill
that would amend the state’s constitution to ensure the rights of
state residents to hunt, trap and fish.
“This is a huge undertaking, it’s not something that comes
easily,” she admitted about the move to amend the constitution.
“But like all things in the Legislature, it takes years to
germinate. But it’s important to get it out there.”
So as much a move to actually amend the constitution, DelMonte’s
bill is about getting the word out on behalf of sportsmen around
“Sportsmen are a tremendous economic source for the state.
Collectively, they spend more than $2.5 billion in pursuit of their
sport,” she said.
A recent meeting on the changes in the state’s hunting
regulations brought a group of more that 400 sportsmen together at
a Lewiston, N.Y., school. DelMonte was impressed with their numbers
– and their passion.
“I was very pleased to see how many of the sportsmen care about
the things they enjoy so much,” she said. “They have been losing
clout in Albany and we can’t let that happen.”
DelMonte is joined on the bill by co-sponsor William Magee,
(D-Nelson) and bi-partisan sponsors Darrell J. Aubertine, (D-Cape
Vincent); Nancy Calhoun, (R, C-Blooming Grove); Aileen Gunther,
(D-Forestburgh); John Lavelle, (D-Staten Island); Jack Quinn,
(R-Hamburg); and Darryl Towns, (D-Brooklyn).
DelMonte actually inherited the bill from retired Assemblyman
Richard Smith, (D,C,I-Hamburg), long known as a friend to sportsmen
across the state.
“He was my mentor, someone I would look to for guidance and I
was more than happy to pick up a number of his bills when he
retired,” said DelMonte. “I have a number of sportsmen in my
district and I think it’s important that their voice be heard.”
The road to a constitutional amendment is a long one. The bill,
currently in the judiciary committee for review, would have to come
out of committee, be passed by two separately elected Legislatures
(the current Legislature and the body that would be elected in
2007/2008) and then it would have to go before the state’s voters
in a general election.
Just getting it out of committee can be tough.
“Bills can easily be lost in committee,” said DelMonte.
If it were to pass the Legislature during this session, it would
have to pass the next session unchanged – with no amendments and no
re-writes. Again, a tough row to hoe. But DelMonte is unfazed by
“It’s really about getting the word out for the sportsmen.
People have to respect and understand what they do,” she said.