April 15, 2005
By Rep. Mark Bryant
What a difference a month can make! In my one of my last columns to the Windham Independent, I wrote to you about a bill I had sponsored to allow hunters to transfer permits to one another before the beginning of hunting season. My goal was to help hunters gain access to areas and seasons, which they may not have been awarded in the permit lottery. Today, while the Maine Legislature is on spring recess, that bill stands ready to be enacted. It takes three readings in both bodies for a bill to become enacted, and my bill has been through the first two. Usually, if it hasn’t hit any major hurdles in the debate, it’s a good sign it’s going to pass.
I’ve also played a strong part in several pieces of outdoor recreation-related legislation that have been enacted. It’s a great feeling when something you know that something you’ve worked hard on is going to become a law. One of the bills, sponsored by Sen. Bill Diamond, allows hunting permits to be issued to people over 100 years of age for free. Since there are very few people of this age applying for permits, it has little fiscal impact on the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, but gives a reward to lifelong sportsmen and women.
Another bill, which was signed into law last week, offered a different challenge. When most pieces of legislation are enacted, they do not become law until 90 days after the legislative session has adjourned. However, there are circumstances when a bill needs to become a law immediately, and is deemed “emergency” legislation. The emergency legislation I cosponsored with my brother, Sen. Bruce Bryant of Oxford County, sought to cope with turkey overpopulation.
Now, it may not sound like an overpopulation of turkeys is a state emergency, but when you start looking at the details, it makes sense. As many of you know, only a limited amount of hunting permits are issued each year for particular seasons and zones. Just about 3,650 people who applied for turkey hunting permits, were not able to receive them do to a cap on the number. At the same time a wildlife biologist brought it to the committee’s attention that the turkey population had significantly increased.
Since the permits had already been issued, and no more could be given out, the constraints of the law left us without a way to manage the state’s turkey population. This new bill, which Governor John Baldacci signed into law, allows the 3,650 people who did not get picked in the initial turkey draw, the opportunity to get their permit. By issuing these permits, we can curb this population imbalance and practice responsible conservation management. This law also serves as a bridge to next season where all who apply will be able to hunt turkey.
Being a legislator is a constant education. I learn about the process and a wide variety of issues, not just from state officials, but from the best experts—the people in Windham and Gray who are experiencing what it’s like to live in Maine every day. Please feel free to contact me on any state matter by phone at 892-6591, or by e-mail at RepMarkBryant@yahoo.com. Or, just call me if you want to “talk turkey.”
Read more news from the House Democrats