|New Legislation to transform DFG
Awaits Governor’s signature
Detractors raise MLPA fears
BY PAUL LEBOWITZ, WON Staff Writer
Circumventing typical legislative
practice, a bill that would subject California’s fish and game managing
agencies to new scrutiny was pulled from oblivion and hurriedly passed on a
party line vote last week. Democrats Dean Florez (Shafter) and Denise Ducheny
(San Diego) opposed the bill, as did the entire Republican caucus.
AB2376 requires development of a
new strategic vision for the Department of Fish and Game and the appointed
committee that sets regulations, the Fish and Game Commission. If signed into
law by the governor, it will establish a new cabinet level committee including
the Resources Secretary, director of DFG, the Fish and Game Commission
president, a University of California representative, and the chair of the
California Energy Commission as well as federal representatives if they chose
This provision was supported by
many of the state’s pro-sportsman organizations, which have long called for
better oversight of license monies and called into question management
priorities that disadvantage hunters and anglers.
More controversially, the measure
was revived from the Appropriations Suspense File – a graveyard for doomed
legislation – following an intense lobbying effort spearheaded by Julie Packard
and Mike Sutton of the Monterey Bay Aquarium and other environmental interests.
Sutton currently serves on the Fish and Game Commission.
Detractors say it was these
organizations which added provisions uncannily similar to the state’s current
MLPA implementation strategy, funded by private money from the environmental
community and presided over by a Blue Ribbon Task Force that claims it isn’t
subject to California’s open government laws. AB2376 does indeed require the
formation of a “blue ribbon or citizen commission” or similar to assist in
carrying out the task. An earlier version of the legislation required the
committee to seek non-state money. There is nothing in the bill that prohibits
"If signed, this bill will be
another MLPA disaster with taxpayers on the hook, jobs lost and nothing to show
for it. Every legitimate hunting and fishing organization is opposed to this
bill, and I urge the governor to veto it," Senator Bob Dutton (R-Rancho
Cucamonga) said. Dutton is the incoming Senate minority leader.
Bill Gaines of the California
Outdoor Heritage Alliance, a supporter of the bill, disagreed.
“We’ve heard people say this is
MLPA 2. It simply restates the
Department’s mission, with fishing and hunting as a major priority. It mandates
any changes require sustainable hunting and fishing opportunity be maintained,
and requires space for the fishing and hunting community at the table in these discussions”
Paul Lebowitz covers the kaya scene for WON, contributes features, and also covers the news on the MLPA process. He was a stakeholder in the SoCal region.