Friday, February 3rd, 2023
Friday, February 3rd, 2023

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Sportsmen Since 1967

Game Commission needs to do a better job communicating

Tom VeneskyI was a bit surprised when I heard about the two bills introduced by state legislators last week — both directed toward the Game Commission.

House Bill 2073 would remove the agency''s exemption from the Independent Regulatory Review Commission, adding another review process to any actions taken by the board. Senate Bill 1603 would slash the cost of a hunting license in half, therefore doing the same thing to the revenue that the agency receives every year from license sales.

The timing was surprising, at first.

Later in the week I spoke to commission board president Ralph Martone and asked if he was surprised by the two bills.

He was.

But Martone also had a pretty good idea of why they were introduced and how the situation could be remedied.

It appears that some legislators feel the commission — administration and board, have somewhat left them out of the loop on important issues. Among them is the agency's consideration to list three species of bats on the state's endangered species list. The idea was published in the state bulletin and, while the move was made partly to solicit public comment on the notion, it didn't sit well with the timber industry who feared strict regulations that would hamper their ability to harvest trees.

The timber industry talked to legislators, and later the commissioners at their recent quarterly meeting in Franklin, Pa., and not long after the pair of bills came about the agency withdrew its intention to list the three bats.

Martone admitted the agency — administration and board, can do a better job of communicating with legislators. He also said the Game Commission will work to improve its relationship with legislators. “I talked to some commissioners and we all feel we can do a better job communicating with legislators, and we intend to,” he said. “I would like to see a better relationship between not just the agency and legislators, but the board and legislators also.”

It was refreshing to hear. Martone didn't dodge the issue. Instead, he identified the problem, accepted responsibility and came up with pledged to do better.

Both bills never made it out of committee for a vote, but perhaps they didn't need to in order to be effective. At the very least, the bills made the agency take notice that it needed to improve in the area of communication with legislators, and Martone  stepped up to the plate to hopefully rectify the matter.

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