Nov.17, 2015 Sunday Hunting
The Life of a Bill
May 4, 2015 We wrote and proposed language to create an “ACT”. We forwarded the language to all members of the Senate and House Game & Fisheries Committee.
November 12, 2015 Our proposed language for Sunday hunting became SB1065.
November 17, 2015 SB1065 was brought up on the Senate Floor during the session and was moved to the Rules Room for an off-the-floor vote by the Senate. Other interested parties such as the author of this bill were permitted to enter the room for the vote. I stood next to the Senate Chairman of the Game & Fisheries Committee while Senate members voted on the bill. It passed unanimously.
November 19, 2015 SB1065 will move back to the Senate Floor and be taken up by the Appropriations Committee.
December 5, 2015 SB1065 will face it’s third and final hearing on the Senate Floor where it will go through an open floor vote.
Approximately January 15, 2015 SB1065 will move to the House of Representatives for the same process.
The inside baseball. November 17, 2015 The Senate session was scheduled to begin at 1PM. The lobbyist for the Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs and I walked the half block from his office to the Capital Building. We barely made it across the lobby when other lobbyists representing other constituents approached to begin dealing. We saw PETA people off to the right who kept their distance while the big surprise was the NRA representative who came up along-side of us as we walked. He wanted to have a word before we entered the chamber. Our representative politely told him that we could talk after the vote but not before. We all understood that no deals, amendments or attachments to our bill would happen, not even for the NRA. We went in and began talking with representatives from many interested parties including the Pennsylvania Game Commission. This was amusing because it was none other than Josh Zimmerman. Just two years ago Josh worked for the previous Governor and helped us achieve a peregrine take in PA against the efforts of the Pennsylvania Game Commission Biologists. Today Josh works for the commission and laughed as he said that the PGC supports our Sunday Hunting effort. I was asked to stand next to Senator Scavello as he led the bill to a vote. He began by asking if anyone had any comments about the bill, none came. He followed by asking if anyone opposed the bill, silence. With the strike of his gavel the bill unanimously passed. We looked at each other with big smiles and he got up to take a picture with me in the Rules Room before going back out to the chamber.
As the room emptied several lobbyists remarked that they haven’t seen a bill for anything related to hunting go unopposed in many years. The NRA lobbyist already knew that we had full support before going into the vote and he wanted to amend our bill and attach his bill to ours, an action that would have killed our bill. This is the second in a series of lessons that demonstrate how things actually work. You have to be present in the Capital and Shepard the bill through the process which means protecting it even from parties that would otherwise be allies. Our legislators are also much less likely to use our bills as bargaining chips in Capital Hills ongoing game of let’s make a deal. In our case, we correctly assessed our need to have more friendly parties in the room while the deals took place. Our lobbyist earned his money by simply doing the ground work leading up to the session than politely telling the NRA to “find another bill, we wish to whistle down the lane alone."
I’m told that the Appropriations Committee will pass the bill without challenge. Stay tuned.
Peregrine Club of Philadelphia