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Paul Lebowitz's Blog

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Bait the Hard Way
Tuesday, September 07, 2010
Angler’s Kayak Shark-Smacked


Legislation to transform DFG Awaits Governor’s signature
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 to participate.

 

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 it.

 

"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” Gaines said.


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.

 

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