UPDATE: Arkansas Wildlife Federation opposes Issue 1 | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

UPDATE: Arkansas Wildlife Federation opposes Issue 1

Posted By on Tue, Oct 28, 2014 at 11:53 AM

As predicted here previously, outdoors groups have begun lining up to oppose Issue 1, the constitutional amendment proposed by the legislature to give it full control over state agency rules and regulations, rather than "review" power. The Arkansas Wildlife Federation summarizes the flaws in this proposal with its release in opposition today

Said a statement from Ellen McNulty, the Federation president, said:

State agencies charged with the job of managing our natural resources, such as the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality, U of A Division of Agriculture, the State Plant Board and Arkansas Natural Resources Commission will have one more layer of bureaucracy to slog through.

The General Assembly, through Ballot Initiative #1, would put the setting of state regulations, including the approval of hunting seasons, bag limits, hunting hours and more, in their own political hands rather than the professionals. The move upends nearly eighty years of professional wildlife management in Arkansas.

It gets worse. If Ballot Initiative #1 passes, the General Assembly would be able to block regulations being put in  place by the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality to keep our air and water clean, properly manage solid and hazardous waste disposal, and make sure that mining is properly regulated. The General Assembly could even block training and other standards for various licensed professionals. This is not in the best interest of Arkansans.

We have a legislative review process that works if used properly. The process includes a 30-day notice with a public comment period. The current legislative review gives a legislative subcommittee the opportunity to ask administrators questions, ask for clarifications or make recommendations, but it does not give legislators the legal authority to prevent

Our legislators want the last word. Ballot Initiative #1, if passed, will add another layer of bureaucracy that has the ability to stifle science-based management and regulations that have already been through the 30 day public notice and legislative review process. We need trained and experienced professionals, not politicians, managing our wildlife and keeping our state clean and healthy for all.

I'm not sure it's a settled question that a constitutional amendment would necessarily give the legislature control over agencies that currently enjoy constitutional protection — Game and Fish, Highway, universities. But you can bet some legislators would try. And there's no doubt it would hamstring executive agencies just as the Federation mentions.

UPDATE: The Arkansas Chapter of The Wildlife Society, an organization of
professional wildlife biologists, also has come out against Issue 1.  It said:

The proposed amendment could take away the independence and power of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission to provide timely, science-based regulations as proposed by Arkansas Game and Fish Commission biologists. The Arkansas Chapter of The Wildlife Society is in favor of the continuation of this biologist-led modern fish and wildlife management structure.

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