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    Saltwater Fishing Articles & More by Outdoor Writer Jerry LaBella
    http://www.jerrylabella.com/forums
    http://jerrylabella.com

  • #2
    Some Good Legislative News, Maybe

    Another great column.
    Jim Slinsky
    Some Good Legislative News, Maybe


    There is no shortage of bad news these days. Whether it is the local, state or federal arena, we are bombarded with bad news on a daily basis. If you are all wrapped-up in the political issues of our day, you also get hit with the press alerts of bad, pending legislation. Most of it is downright depressing.

    Occasionally, there is some good news. Actually, I prefer reporting on good news, but it is just too infrequent to keep me smiling. It is fun to plug a legislator or individual who rises to the challenge of speaking out and taking the high road. I can’t tell you for certain if our legislators truly understand that we, the people, look to them to correct the great injustices in our society. It is the benchmark by which we judge the character of our individual legislator and the effectiveness of government.

    Senator Robert Robbins has been pretty busy these past few months. He was the prime mover and shaker of Senate Bill 1172, the Emergency Powers Bill. We all remember the debacle that occurred in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Law enforcement went almost door to door disarming law-abiding citizens. That is fact; taking citizens’ firearms and ammunition at a time when they needed them most. This was in direct violation of the US Constitution, I believe. It is still difficult to accept the arrogance of government at that moment in history. Senator Robbins’ bill prevents this from ever happening in PA. It passed the Senate 50 to 0. It has been sent to the House for their approval. This one is a no-brainer and I hope our House members display their integrity, their commitment to our citizens and their understanding of both Constitutions by passing this bill without debate.

    Senate Bill 497 is another piece of Senator Robbins’ efforts called the Landowner Protection Bill. This one protects landowners from frivolous lawsuits if they open their land to our citizens for recreation. This encompassed all kinds of recreation, not just hunting. Unfortunately, this bill was amended by Senator Edwin Erickson and lost much of its impact. Senator Erickson doesn’t believe if a landowner is sued frivolously, he should be entitled to recover his legal defense costs. Look for this amendment to be challenged in the House with some serious resulting debate.

    Over on the House side, a bill has been written by State Rep Mike Hanna that is long overdue. It doesn’t have a number yet, but SR Hanna is looking for cosponsors. This bill requires the PGC to manage wildlife scientifically with verifiable data, recreationally, socially and economically. What a novel idea. It will actually force our PGC Commissioners to act responsibly and consider all factors in wildlife management instead of being a mouthpiece for the forestry industry. SR Hanna will certainly appreciate your input with your local representative on this one.

    Another piece of legislation in the pipeline deals with habitat remediation. This one mandates that after a timber cut the agencies would be required to lime and fertilize the soil and replace the nutrients removed or depleted by acid rain. Once again, this is common sense legislation that is actually another no-brainer. Every farmer in this country realizes that he must replace the nutrients and recover the soil after harvesting a crop. Since our forests have been changed into tree farms this one should not require a great deal of debate.

    The SR Hanna legislation and the remediation legislation were conceptually put forth by the Unified Sportsmen of PA acting on the demand of the majority of our sportsmen in this state.

    One piece of legislation not doing well is SR Steven Cappelli’s HB 641 commonly referred to as the “Castle Doctrine”. The legislation eliminates the obligation for our citizens to retreat in home invasive situations and prevents frivolous lawsuits if the citizen uses deadly force to protect his person and family. As of January 2007, fifteen states had passed similar legislation.

    You may have heard HB 1214 limiting a PGC Commissioner term to four years also passed the Senate Game and Fisheries Committee and is headed for a full Senate vote.

    With the exception of HB 641 all of the above is good news going in the right direction. No curative legislation has actually passed, yet. While the above is encouraging, the speed in which our critical issues are addressed seems to need a great deal of improvement.

    Jim Slinsky is the host and producer of the “Outdoor Talk Network”, a nationally syndicated, outdoor-talk radio program. For a station near you or to contact Jim, visit his website at www.outdoortalknetwork.com
    Saltwater Fishing Articles & More by Outdoor Writer Jerry LaBella
    http://www.jerrylabella.com/forums
    http://jerrylabella.com

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    • #3
      Who’s Your Buddy?

      Dear Senators and Representatives:
      My latest column.
      Enjoy.
      Jim Slinsky

      Column 364

      Who’s Your Buddy?

      We are all actors upon a stage. That’s all life really is. We are characters acting out our parts. Some of us have bit parts, others have leading roles. No one has handed us a script. We ad lib on a daily basis, but nonetheless the show must and will go on. The curtain is about to be pulled back in Harrisburg. The actors will enter from the wings. We are uncertain if we are about to witness a tragedy, a comedy or a riveting rendition of man against man in the struggle for survival and dominance. I am sitting on the edge of my chair.

      Unless you have been in Guatemala for the sailfish bite over the last eight years, you should realize that the patient is scheduled for surgery. After twelve years of State Rep Bruce Smith blocking all forms of curative legislation, the home boys across this state are in severe pain. The sleeping giant is awake and he is not in the best of mood. We are uncertain if the operation will be a success or if our hunting tradition is about to die on the operating table.

      The opening act will be House Bill 1214. This one limits the term of a PGC Commissioner to four years with a second four-year term possible only after reconfirmation by the Senate. The benefits of this legislation are obvious with the bad actors getting the hook after four years. Plus, we will attract better actors with the shorter, four-year contract. It passed the House unanimously. It cleared the Senate Game and Fisheries Committee unanimously. It is about to walk on center stage of the full Senate. The curtain will roll back, the lights will go dim and the senators will gather round. We shall see which senator brings to the operating table life support and which senator brings an axe.

      The out-of-state independent audit of the PGC’s deer management program is scheduled as the second act. After a number of auditions and screen tests the producers and directors have decided on the script. The House Resolution granting permission for the operation is headed for a vote. Upon approval, the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee will write the operating procedure. They will call in doctors from across the country to act out their roles upon the stage. This time the legislators will stand in the wings with us, waiting for the prognosis of the patient. The Game Commission will be sitting on the edge of their chair. When this act is concluded some actors within the PGC may find themselves transferred to another acting company, out-of-state. What started out as a tragedy may have a happy ending. We all smile at a happy ending.

      None of this “rock and the hard place” screenplay would be possible if it wasn’t for the Emmy Award winning director Dr. N. Charles Bolgiano, Legislative Liaison for the Unified Sportsmen of PA. This play has been so successful Unified has been selling tickets and memberships across the Commonwealth with the money rolling in to keep the play running. Of course, like any successful director Dr. Bolgiano has surrounded himself with good people. We have all seen supporting actors turn in performances that can make or break the picture. Unified is the only game in town running a show that has received rave reviews.

      While this show is going on, new legislation is coming together behind the scenes. New legislators are emerging with interesting plots seeking their moment on the stage. We have no shortage of actors or plots. Surgery must go on and hopefully the patient, our grand hunting tradition, will soon be removed from intensive care to standing on its’ own two feet. It may even find a place on the stage to act out its own destiny.

      It was fun to write this column and inject a little levity into our pathetic situation. However, there is nothing humorous about our grand hunting tradition fighting for its life upon a stage for all to criticize. Our future now lies in the hands of our legislators. You need to watch this final act, carefully. The curtain will be pulled back and the actors are about to walk onto center stage.

      You are about to find out who’s your buddy and who is not.

      Jim Slinsky is the host and producer of the “Outdoor Talk Network”, a nationally syndicated, outdoor-talk radio program. For a station near you or to contact Jim, visit his website at www.outdoortalknetwork.com
      Saltwater Fishing Articles & More by Outdoor Writer Jerry LaBella
      http://www.jerrylabella.com/forums
      http://jerrylabella.com

      Comment


      • #4
        New Guns Laws and a Rally....

        Column 365



        New Guns Laws and a Rally


        Unless you have been in Patagonia chasing big rainbows for the past month, you should know the meaning of the Second Amendment was just argued before the US Supreme Court. Preliminary speculation by the homeboys says our freedoms did well with five of the eight justices sounding like they are going to rule in favor of the individual interpretation. Anytime one goes to court it is the equivalent of rolling the dice. In view of a truckload of supporting documentation, one must ask themselves what are the other three justices thinking? I guess we will need to wait to find out what the meaning of the word is----is. Interestingly, the man who started this case rolling, Mr. Robert Levy, the multi-millionaire scholar from the Cato Institute was a guest on my radio show.

        In any event on the home front there is no shortage of new gun laws popping up faster than this spring’s new bass lures. There are some good ones and some bad ones. Most new gun laws get tied up in the Judiciary Committees and have a tough time getting to either floor for debate. This is because new gun laws are always controversial and because PA legislators are in general, solidly in favor of protecting your freedoms. I qualify that by saying, generally.

        HB 1845 passed out of Committee, but quickly developed into a hanger. It increases penalties for possession of a firearm with an altered serial number. Since it sounds like a no-brainer, pro and anti-gun legislators are hanging their pet legislation on it in the hope that their legislation will pass.

        House Bill 641 sponsored by SR Stephen Cappelli and often referred to as the “Castle Doctrine” is long overdue. It has been kicked around for a year. Basically, it eliminates an honest citizen’s duty to retreat when confronted by violent criminals. It provides legal protection should your assailant or his relatives sue you for harming the criminal when you defended yourself. It contains an anti-carjacking provision so that if a criminal forcibly enters an occupied vehicle, the presumption is he intends to harm the passengers.

        House Bill 1029 by SR Richard R. Stevenson is another good one. This one permits law enforcement and citizens licensed to carry concealed firearms to avoid redundant background checks via the PA Instant Check every time they purchase a firearm. It will help relieve pressure on the strained PA Instant Check system, as well. Let us not forget your “right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed”.

        SR David Levdansky has offered an amendment which is opposed by every gun rights group. This one requires mandatory reporting of lost or stolen firearms within 72 hours or you are in deep trouble. Additionally, it requires our gun dealers to practically explain our gun laws to their customers or be in violation of the law, themselves. Once again, this legislation is shifting responsibilities to our dealers with the possibility of forcing them out of business for non-compliance.

        HB 2228 by anti-gun Philadelphia legislators is a real laugher. Now they are calling for encoded ammunition legislation commonly called “bullet serialization”. In this scenario every bullet manufactured would have a serial number stamped on the projectile with a matching serial number on the case. A new statewide database would be established and every bullet sold and every buyer would be entered into the database. This one has been studied by experts and declared unworkable for solving crimes.

        Apparently, in these remaining years of the Rendell Administration gun owners and firearms will be subjected to a steady diet of new laws. It is unfortunate that a small minority of anti-gun legislators can’t seem to accept Pennsylvanians don’t want more gun laws; they want to maintain their freedom. It is equally unfortunate that these same legislators could not direct their time and effort toward legislation that would indeed help the Commonwealth and our citizens.

        There is a major gun rally and gun owner lobbying workshop scheduled in Harrisburg in the Capital at 9 AM on April 7. It is a chance to show your support for freedom. The anti-gun “Ceasefire PA” people working against your rights are lobbying in Harrisburg everyday. Can you spare one day to protect your rights?

        I hope I see you there.

        Jim Slinsky is the host and producer of the “Outdoor Talk Network”, a nationally syndicated, outdoor-talk radio program. For a station near you or to contact Jim, visit his website at www.outdoortalknetwork.com





        Column 366



        State Agency or Independent Agency?


        You probably don’t realize it, but things are more than a little hot in Harrisburg right now. All the rage is HB1214, which changes a PGC Commissioner term to two (2), four-year terms with Senate reconfirmation required to serve the second term. The PGC is utilizing their new Legislative Liaison, Mr. Steve Smith to lobby our Senators hard to defeat this bill. Common sense dictates that the Agency probably could care less how long a Commissioner serves. Most likely, a few current Commissioners are pressuring the Agency to utilize their new Legislative Liaison to aggressively fight this legislation. Steve Smith is working the Capital doing his lobbying job.

        While to some it might seem this is no more than business as usual, I have been trying to find in Title 34 where the PGC is authorized to spend sportsmen’s dollars to “lobby” legislators. When someone goes to Harrisburg to promote or defeat legislation, he is no longer serving as a liaison, he is now a lobbyist. That is fact. A non-profit organization that dares discuss legislation is in jeopardy of losing their non-profit status. Montana sportsmen have sued their Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks on these precise grounds. In PA, the situation is equally unacceptable with the PGC using sportsmen’s dollars to defeat legislation that our sportsmen have demanded. The PGC is using our own money against us.

        When one finally comprehends what is happening here and calls the Attorney General’s office to complain, one gets a rude awakening. The AG’s office will tell you that the PGC is a state agency and as such they are required to defend the PGC, not prosecute them. You will be told that the “Commonwealth Attorney’s Act” requires the AG’s office to provide free legal defense for the PGC against all comers. If one gets mad at this point and calls the Inspector General’s office, a bucket of ice water will be thrown in your face. The IG’s office will tell you the PGC is an independent agency and as such they have no authority to pursue your complaints. How could this be? How can an agency be a state agency and an independent agency at the same time? In reality, the PGC has no governmental oversight in PA. Actually, the system is designed so you would need to appeal to the United States Attorney General’s office if you wish to pursue serious wrongdoing by the PGC. This scenario is the true cause of our sporting groups repeatedly appealing to our legislators in all matters concerning the PGC’s behavior and management.

        While we frequently call the PGC an independent agency, are they really? Yes, they do raise their own revenue without help from the state’s general tax revenue. However, they can not hire and fire employees without permission from the Governor’s office. The Governor is deeply embroiled in the Commissioner selection process and most recently, DCNR has injected themselves into the process. Sportsmen have been the sole revenue source for the PGC for the past 100 plus years and we have no say in the Commissioner selection process. I’m confused. Anytime a State Game Land stands in the way of highway expansion or college expansion, the matter is quickly resolved and the PGC and our hunters come up short. Ask someone who works in the PGC’s office with an ear on the incoming phone calls and you will quickly realize that the PGC is a lot things, but an independent agency is not one of them.

        The PGC is about to endure a rash of audits. A deer management audit is about to pass the legislature. Their resource revenue potential audit on state game lands is up next. I am hearing calls for a full-blown forestry audit of the PGC’s and DCNR’s forestry practices. These matters are coming to a head because there was no system of checks and balances weaved into the legislation governing their management practices. Given the opportunity state agencies will take their “discretion” to the extreme and eventually, contrary to the will of the people who finance their existence.

        Change is in the air in Harrisburg. Our sporting class is demanding it. We have become too knowledgeable in the arenas of wildlife management, how a competent agency should act and what good government should do.

        All of the above is about to hit the fan. The opening salvo is HB1214.

        Jim Slinsky is the host and producer of the “Outdoor Talk Network”, a nationally syndicated, outdoor-talk radio program. For a station near you or to contact Jim, visit his website at www.outdoortalknetwork.com





        Column 367



        HB 2381 - More Positive Legislation


        As a writer and broadcaster traveling to Harrisburg to meet directly with legislators has become a life-altering experience. There is no better way to evaluate a person than looking him or her in the eye and pressing the flesh. One learns volumes about a legislator after a 30-minute face to face conversation.

        Our House Game and Fisheries Committee (HGFC) chaired by SR Ed Staback is stacked with exemplary legislators who are listening to their constituents. Actually, they are listening to all Pennsylvanians in the never-ending battle to reform PGC’s policies. I wish I could say the same for the PA Senate. Within the Senate there are more than a few that haven’t decided if they are in office to represent their constituents or represent the state agencies. I suspect I will be providing names in future columns.

        Be that as it may, we will work with the positive for the moment. State Rep Dan Surra’s stellar HB1214 was the first curative legislation to emerge from the HGFC since the former Chairman, SR Bruce Smith, retired. This one passed the House unanimously, but is now tied-up by the “Friends of the PGC” on the Senate side. Under the leadership of SR Ed Staback, HGFC Majority Chairman and Minority Chairman, Sam Rohrer, the HGFC is working as it is supposed to work, in a cooperative, non-partisan fashion.

        Recently, SR Mike Hanna came forth with his HB 2381, which is the second piece of curative legislation to come out and long-overdue by decades. This legislation consists of two components. First, it prevents former PGC employees and/or PGC WCO’s from becoming PGC Commissioners. Anyone who has difficulty understanding the logic of keeping former PGC people off the Board of Commissioners should show you who signs their paycheck. The second component guides our PGC Commissioners in their wildlife management decisions. It states, “In all wildlife management decisions, the Commissioners shall be guided by the principles of best management practices utilizing scientific analysis supported by verifiable data with equal regard for the social, economic and recreational impacts of their decisions”. This is basic stuff and you would think our PGC Commissioners are currently operating under this common sense principle. They are not and as such we need to establish parameters and prevent them from abusing their authority.

        I would be remiss if I didn’t mention SR Dan Moul, SR Gary Haluska, SR Tim Mahoney, SR Brad Rock, SR Sam Rohrer, SR Ed Staback and a dozen others who are working hard to pass curative legislation to control and correct the PGC’s direction. Those House members who have not personally written legislation to contribute to the cause, quickly come forward to support the more experienced members in their efforts. I tell you this as a man who travels to Harrisburg to check the pulse of our legislators. I am not sitting at a computer in the corner of my basement pontificating about the tribulations in Harrisburg.

        Watch your local newspapers, carefully. You will see “Letters to the Editor” appear from all corners of the state condemning curative legislation and those who write it. There will be a remarkably similar writing style from letter to letter. The “Friends of the PGC” are in a full court press mode to defeat any legislation that attempts to bring the PGC into the 21st century. You will read that Dr. Charles Bolgiano, the Unified Sportsmen of PA and Jim Slinsky are bad people determined to destroy the PGC. Of course, nothing could possibly be further from the truth. The curative legislation in the pipeline will only force the PGC and our Commissioners to operate in a more responsible, responsive manner, strengthen their autonomy and their buffer against hostile takeover by the DCNR. The pending legislation will help prevent the loss of hunters and their revenue by proving our legislators are listening even if the PGC isn’t.

        What you are seeing is history in the making. Our thinking sportsmen have had enough of the failed PGC policies of the last eight years. They are pouring their money and passion into the Unified Sportsmen of PA in the effort to change the course of history. The PGC has energized their “Friends of the PGC” to make certain that no legislation is ever passed to correct their influenced and incompetent management decisions. It is your decision which faction of this war you will join.

        Whichever you choose, your Senator is waiting for your call.

        Jim Slinsky is the host and producer of the “Outdoor Talk Network”, a nationally syndicated, outdoor-talk radio program. For a station near you or to contact Jim, visit his website at www.outdoortalknetwork.com.
        Saltwater Fishing Articles & More by Outdoor Writer Jerry LaBella
        http://www.jerrylabella.com/forums
        http://jerrylabella.com

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