NH Public Hearing Reveals Necessity of Fish & Game Review
Whether the thought of addressing a room full of people horrifies you, or you just happen to be a natural born public speaker, providing testimony is never quite described as an easy task. Nonetheless, such testimony is a significant approach to weighing in on important state matters. It also sheds light on where our representatives stand on those issues, which certainly held true while testifying in front of the House Fish and Game and Marine Resources Committee on March 28th.
The Matter At Hand
SB 48, a bill requiring a review of the NH Fish and Game Department, drew in a decent amount of residents to the hearing, as well as email submissions. It was said by committee members at the hearing that 75% of the emails they received were in support of the bill.
After being called upon, I kindly thanked the Chairman and Committee, and I was off and running... but not for long.
Following about 2 hours of uninterrupted testimony from others, I was interrupted within a few minutes of my own. When I began to address how the Fish and Game is funded, Representative Klose (Merrimack-District 21), who was recently under fire for submitting a controversial non-germane amendment, interjected stating, "Excuse me, excuse me just a minute. Mr. Chairman, does this got anything to do with the bill we're discussing?"
SB 48 notes the importance of the Dept. being "financially secure," with the intent to establish, "...a commission to study the efficiency and effectiveness of the Fish and Game Department’s operations, governance, and management structure." I was testifying as to why such a study is necessary, which of course, was the purpose of the hearing. After explaining that, I was allowed to proceed uninterrupted, that is, until only minutes later.
House Rep. Disregards New Hampshire Law
Following my testimony, the Committee had many questions, for which I was truly thankful, as inquiries lead to discussions, and discussions lead to solutions.
I referred to NH Law RSA 206:2-a, which states a qualified Fish and Game Commissioner must be, "An active outdoorsman holding a resident fishing, hunting, or trapping license in at least 5 of the 10 years preceding the appointment."
When referring to NH Law RSA 206:2, which requires that NH Fish and Game Commissioners are nominated by 'sporting clubs,' I was again interrupted by Rep. Klose with his statement, "That's not true."
Unfortunately, it is all too true. NH Law RSA 206:2 III(b) also requires those ‘sports clubs’ acknowledges the promotion and protection of hunting, fishing or trapping in its permanent bylaws.
Importance of Acknowledging Current Law
It is with great respect that we hold our House Representatives accountable for being aware of current NH laws, particularly those regarding the bill under consideration.
SB 48 is no exception to that fact, as to provide an objective opinion on whether or not a review of the laws and structure of the NH Fish and Game is necessary, we must first be aware of what those laws currently are and the impact that they have.
House Rep. Implies Recommended Law Manipulation
My testimony was from my perspective as a non-hunting/non-fishing resident. However, Representative Howard (Belknap-District 8) asked me, "Is it fair to say that you could go buy a lifetime fishing license?"
Following confirmation of my probable capability of obtaining a fishing license, he then stated, "And then in five years you could get a nomination for a commissionship." This led to the above discussion of required sporting club nominations, to which Rep. Howard followed up on by stating, "...There is nothing in the law that says you cannot buy a fishing license and you cannot join a club."
It is quite clear what this line of questioning implies. However, proposing that an individual who possesses the experience and expertise necessary to excel as a Fish and Game Commissioner, obtain a fishing license against their beliefs in a deceptive and deliberate attempt to manipulate NH law, is certainly not recommended, nor should it be necessary. Why should NH residents have to lie or manipulate the law to receive equal representation from the Fish and Game?
However, Rep. Howard's honesty openly brings to the table what many people may be thinking. A thought process which must be addressed, because it perfectly demonstrates the essential fact that the laws regarding the structure of the NH Fish and Game are outdated.
When our state legislators are openly disregarding or considering manipulation of current law to do what overall makes sense, it is a clear indication that the time has come to reconsider the impact and efficiency of those laws; undeniably confirming the necessity of SB 48.
It is noteworthy that there were members of the Committee that listened with patience, which was appreciated. Following the hearing, the Committee voted unanimously to retain the bill to review possible amendments. We can only hope that this will lead to the passing of the bill, not only for potential equal representation of all residents, but for the future of the NH Fish and Game.