Sportsmen’s concerns register at Legislature
With this legislative session half over, bills affecting New Mexico sportsmen could start moving quickly, which means hunters and anglers need to be ready to respond.
Already it appears that sportsmen have had a positive impact. Members of the House Taxation and Revenue Committee told NMWF this week they had heard overwhelming opposition to House Bill 24, a bill that would negatively change the Habitat Stamp program and cause the Department of Game and Fish to lose $150,000 a year. Bill sponsor Rep. William Rehm of Albuquerque failed to appear at the Tax and Revenue Committee hearing on Monday, forcing postponement. On Wednesday he asked that the bill be pulled off that day’s calendar, and on Friday it was not heard. So it isn’t clear when – or if – HB 24 will come up for a hearing again, but the clock is ticking down and the bill’s chances of getting through the Legislature look dimmer every day.
Unfortunately, a measure paving the way for the sale of the Marquez Wildlife Management Area in Unit 9 passed its first committee hearing in the House this week. State law requires legislative approval for a state agency to sell property worth more than $100,000. House Joint Memorial 7 would give the Game Commission permission to sell the Marquez before a sale price has been negotiated, without further legislative approval or oversight, with no time limit and no promise that the public will be involved in the decision. The Marquez is managed for high quality elk and deer hunting, and while the number of licenses is limited, all New Mexico hunters have an opportunity to try for a tag. (Thanks to Senate Bill 196 last year, all wildlife management area elk licenses are reserved for New Mexico residents.) The Game Commission voted in November against entering negotiations to sell the Marquez, but if HJR 7 passes there would be nothing to stop the commission from selling it in the future.The bill’s next stop is the House Voters and Elections Committee. It wouldn’t hurt for sportsmen to send Committee Chairwoman Mary Helen Garcia an email stating your opposition to HJR 7. Write her at email@example.com.
The legislative session ends at noon on Thursday, Feb. 16. For the latest updates from Santa Fe, visit the Legislative Watch section of our website. Click here, or go to www.nmwildlife.org.