Sunday hunting fight going down to wire

Rep. Ed Staback wouldn’t say so, but I get the feeling he’s
disillusioned with the national groups that persuaded him to
introduce a bill to lift the ban on Sunday hunting.

A coalition that includes the NRA, the National Wild Turkey
Federation and the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance — which is committed
to legalizing Sunday hunting in Pennsylvania and 10 other states
where it is limited or prohibited — promised him that they would
lobby hard for his legislation.

Problem is, the groups’ members in Pennsylvania have been mostly
silent while opponents of Sunday hunting — led by members of the
Pennsylvania Farm Bureau — have been noisily in the faces of
lawmakers.

“I don’t think I misjudged the support for Sunday hunting, but I
thought this time around it would go better with the support of
these high-profile groups,” the Lackawanna County Democrat said.
“Last time around, we didn’t have that — but this time I expected
a lot of very vocal support.”

Staback has been trying to get Sunday hunting approved in this
state for years. Now, with Republicans holding wide margins in the
House and the Senate, and occupying the governor’s residence — one
party control — the time seemed right. When Rep. John Evans,
R-Crawford and Erie, majority chairman of the House Game and
Fisheries Committee, agreed to co-sponsor the bill, the effort
looked promising, Staback believed.

Gov. Corbett is widely expected to sign a bill ending the ban on
Sunday hunting if it gets to him because he would likely view it as
an economic boost for Pennsylvania. Still, Senate Game and
Fisheries Committee Majority Chairman Richard Alloway has made no
secret of the fact that he doesn’t support it.

But in a major revelation, the Republican senator, representing
Adams, Franklin and York counties, told Pennsylvania Outdoor
News recently that he will allow the bill to come to a vote in
the Senate if it passes the House.

Sen. Alloway noted that a committee chairman has the right to
not bring a bill up for a vote. “But I won’t do that,” he said. “It
would not be fair.”

That’s big news because Alloway could have dropped the
Sunday-hunting initiative in its tracks. I admire him for allowing
the legislative process to proceed, should the House approve the
measure. Let the senators vote.

However, it is not clear to me if the votes are there in the
House or Senate to pass HB 1760. Even Staback and Alloway claim not
to know if it will be adopted. That surprised me because I thought
those guys always know how the votes will tally long before the
ballot is called. Apparently this controversial vote is just too
close to call.

“But if this is to pass, it can’t be an effort by a bunch of
out-of-state leaders of these groups to force Sunday hunting on the
citizens of Pennsylvania,” Staback said. “The sportsmen here have
to make it clear that they want it — and they can’t wait much
longer to do that.

“The rank-and-file members of these groups are the ones who can
get this done, not the heads of these groups. Lawmakers must hear
from their constituents.”

Categories: Pennsylvania – Jeff Mulhollem

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