Rifle bills may be dead for this year

Staff report

Albany – Legislation that would allow hunters to use rifles for
deer and bear in Chautauqua, Steuben, Yates and Chemung counties is
stalled in the state Assembly.

And there’s no guarantee the Assembly will return to session
this fall before hunting season begins.

That means the two bills, once thought to be headed toward
passage, may now be in jeopardy.

It came as a surprise to sportsmen, who fully expected rifle use
to be extended into those counties on the heels of an apparent
successful and safe move in several other Southern Zone counties
last season.

“It wasn’t a particularly exciting year for the sportsmen of the
state,” said Wally John, legislative liaison for the New York State
Conservation Council. “What we expected to happen was what should
have happened if anybody in the Assembly leadership gave a damn
about sportsmen.”

The Steuben-Yates-Chemung bill – S06757 – passed the Senate by a
59-2 margin last month and was sent to the Assembly for
consideration.

It languished in the Assembly’s environmental conservation
committee and never made it to the floor, despite predictions that
it would be approved.

John now believes there’s just “a slim possibility” the Assembly
will vote on the measure, and “probably not before deer
season.”

The Chautauqua County measure, sponsored by Assemblyman William
Parment, D-North Harmony, has yet to reach a vote in the Senate or
Assembly. The bills are A10312A and S6513A.

Parment admitted the chances of it being approved this season
are virtually nil.

“I’m not sure when the Assembly will return to session – whether
it will be after the primary election (in September) or maybe not
at all,” he said. “But it’s not the type of legislation that would
come up in a special session, so I would say it’s dead for this
year.”

Parment said he would reintroduce the bill next year if that’s
the case.

“The bill is still somewhat controversial in Chautauqua County,”
Parment said. “Until this year the county sportsmen’s federation
opposed the measure, and it reversed that position this year by a
narrow vote (of member clubs). So it remains a less than
overwhelming majority in favor of introduction, even among
sportsmen.”

The Steuben-Yates-Chemung proposal, although it’s been approved
by the Senate, is also likely stalled until at least next year,
since the Assembly would have to take up the measure this fall.
Parment said that, too, is unlikely, even if lawmakers return to
session before the hunting season.

The lack of action on both bills comes despite legislation last
year that expanded the Southern Zone rifle use into Allegany,
Cattaraugus, Chenango, Herkimer, Montgomery, Oneida, Oswego,
Otsego, Schoharie and Tioga counties.

While detractors voiced safety concerns, the move received some
validation when New York hunters posted a record season for safety
and no hunting accidents could be tied directly to rifle use.

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