Editor’s note: Updated 10:48 a.m., Tuesday,January 30, 2024, with voting results in the new fifth paragraph.
A Washington legislative committee gave a do-pass recommendation to a bill that aims to amend the state constitution to enshrine the rights to hunt, fish, forage and more.
Senate Joint Resolution 8208 still has a long way before it would go to a vote of the people, but it beat this week’s deadline for non-budget bills to be passed out of their initial committee.
The panel in this case was the Senate Agriculture, Water, Natural Resources & Parks Committee, where this afternoon Senator Jesse Salomon (D-Shoreline) moved that the bill sponsored by fellow member Senator Keith Wagoner (R-Sedro-Woolley) receive a do-pass recommendation.
Though some nays could be heard, Chair Senator Kevin Van De Wege (D-Sequim) announced it had been passed out of the nine-member committee.
Legislative records posted Tuesday showed it received a do-pass recommendation from Van De Wege and Senators Ron Muzzall (R-Whidbey Island), Shelly Short (R-Colville), Wagoner and Judy Warnick (R-Moses Lake; without recommendation votes from Senators Salomon, Marko Liias (D-Edmonds) and Sharon Shewmake (D-Bellingham); and a do-not-pass recommendation from Senator Derek Stanford (D-Bothell).
The bill now proceeds to the Rules Committee, which determines when it will be considered by the full Senate.
SJR 8208 proposes to put a Constitutional amendment to enshrine the rights to foraging, hunting, fishing, trapping and harvesting of fish and wildlife to a public vote. A simple majority would do the trick, but first the bill needs to pass both the full Senate and House by two-thirds margins.
Public testimony during a hearing early last week was equally split, with eight speakers in favor and eight against. Another 1,819 signed in in favor and 1,424 were against.
“I think this bill would recalibrate our state on what the point of hunting and fishing is for and all about,” said Senator Wagoner. “For some of us – I’m a casual hunter and fisherman – it’s recreation and connecting with nature. For others, it’s a way to supplement their food when they’re food insecure. And for many of our tribes it’s a more spiritual connection and something that is part of their culture. So I think this at least deserves to go to the people for a vote, and I hope that it would be supported.”
Concerns centered around language that the rights would be subject only to reasonable regs.
The legislation arrives as things have become increasingly contentious in Washington between sportsmen and fish and wildlife reformists.
Other sponsors include Senators Matt Boehnke (R-Kennewick), Phil Fortunato (R-Auburn), Karen Keiser (D-Des Moines), Mark Schoesler (R-Ritzville), Short and Lynda Wilson (R-Vancouver).
SJR 8208 has a companion bill in the House, HJR 4212. It is sponsored by Representatives Jacquelin Maycumber (R-Republic), Jim Walsh (R-Aberdeen) and Stephanie McClintock (R-Vancouver).