2023 Legislative Session – A long and arduous session yields victories in the final hours.
The 2023 Legislative session came to a close on Sunday, June 25, and while not successful in securing a ballot referendum to constitutionally protect the right to fish, hunt, harvest, and gather, the sportsmen’s community had several major victories.
HB 3086, the bill to restructure the map by which ODFW Commissioners are selected, passed with an unanimous vote in the House and a near unanimous vote Senate. After working all session to keep this bill alive, the unanimous passage of this bill is notable and should be considered a substantial milestone for the bill supporters.
The ODFW commission was previously aligned to congressional districts plus two at-large positions, one eastside and one westside. The new statute bases all positions in the river basin regions with two commissioners each from the Northwest and West Central Regions, and one commissioner each from the Southwest, North Central, and Eastern Regions. This provides greater representation to the eastern portion of the state and ensures we will no longer have three, or more, commissioners centered in the Portland area.
The bill had two public hearings in which sportsmen and women around the state submitted over 1,000 pieces of written testimony in support. Additionally, Howl For Wildlife’s action alert system garnering over 3,000 interactions and generating nearly 51,000 individual emails to legislators over the course of the session.
OHA partnered with other sportsmen’s organizations, natural resource organizations, and livestock producers to build a united front of stakeholders supporting the bill. A huge factor in it’s passage were the six federally recognized Tribes in support: Coquille Indian Tribe, Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians, Confederated Tribe of Siletz Indians, Confederated Tribe of Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaw Indians, Burns Paiute Tribe, and the Confederated Tribe of Grand Ronde. The support of six tribes made this bill historic as the first pieces of legislation to ever garner such a level of support from sovereign nations.
The bill also had immense bipartisan and bicameral support with 30 bill sponsors. Chief sponsors were: Rep. Bobby Levy (R – District 58), Sen. Hansell (R – District 29), Rep. Owens (R – District 60), Rep. Hartman (D – District 40), Rep. Emerson Levy (D – District 53), Sen. Brock Smith (R – District 1). Regular sponsors were: Representatives Boice (R – District 1), Boshart Davis (R – District 15), Bynam (D – District 39), Cate (R – District 11), Diehl (R – District 17), Gomberg (D – District 10), Goodwin (R – District 4), Heib (R – District 51), Lewis (R – District 18), Lively (D – District 7), McIntire (R – District 56), Morgan (R – District 3), H. Nguyen (D – District 48), Osborne (R – District 2), H. Pham (D – District 36), Sanchez (D – District 43), Stout (R – District 31), Wallan (R – District 6), Walters (D – District 37), Wright (R – District 9), Senators Anderson (R – District 5), Bonham (R – District 26), and Meek (D – District 20).
Defeating a bad bill is a victory in itself. From further restrictions on hunting with hounds and criminalizing fur sales to restrictions of managing predatory animals, the engagement of sportsmen and women around the state were instrumental in defeating or modifying five bills that would have had detrimental outcomes.
OHA’s bill seeking new funding for establishing in-state testing for chronic wasting disease was not included in the final budget bill of the session. However, there were other financial wins for wildlife and rural Oregonians. In addition to the $5 million appropriated for further investments in wildlife crossings, the Minam River Wildlife Area Acquisition Phase II funding was approved, and the Mule Deer Coordination position was funded in a permanent status.
In a session that at times appeared to be one obstacle after another, the voices of sportsmen and women around the state were ultimately heard, making a substantial, and positive, difference in many outcomes.
After being relatively dormant for the last 8 months, IP3 has begun ramping up their efforts to get on the 2024 ballot. They have received several $50,000 donations in the last few months and are now actively hiring paid signature gatherers.
This influx of funding and the ability to hire paid signature gatherers. are indicators that Oregonians can no longer view this effort as an outlier. They have until July 5, 2024 to gather the signatures needed (120,431) to gain the ballot – the threat is real.
OHA members are asked to help spread the word about this extreme initiative. OHA State can provide IP3 information cards for chapter use at events, shows, and other public engagement opportunities.
IP3 information and updates are located HERE
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