“GRAND RAPIDS, MI — Does a proposed law working through the state Senate put Michigan wolves in danger?
A number of letter writers say the public should have a direct say in protecting wildlife from hunters, and stand in opposition to a bill co-sponsored by Grand Rapids-area state Sens. David Hildenbrand, R-Lowell, and Arlan Meekhof, R-West Olive.
Pat Hartsoe attended a recent hearing in Lansing:
Last week I attended the Senate Committee on Natural Resources, Environment and Great Lakes. I came away feeling marginalized by the thinly-veiled political process I witnessed. Senate Bill 288 (co-sponsored by State Sen. Dave Hildenbrand, R-Lowell) was discussed.
SB 288 would allow the Natural Resources Commission to designate animals as “game species.” This bill was quickly introduced April 9, shortly after 250,000 registered voter signatures were delivered to the Secretary of State office in Lansing. I helped collect those signatures during bitter winter weather. The petition would require a public vote in 2014 on wolf hunting.
One problem with SB 288 is that if the NRC designates an animal a game species, concerned citizens would not be able to reverse this decision with a ballot referendum as they could with legislative decisions. Further, the NRC is an appointed, not elected, group.
Only one member has a science background. Two nationally-recognized scientists from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula with 30 years of wolf research experience were never consulted. After hearing public input, a 5 to 2 vote in favor was quickly taken. The bill moved to the Senate and could become law in less than two weeks.
I see a disturbing pattern developing in Michigan politics. In my opinion, if individuals get involved with legal, organized and timely opposition to an issue, politicians shouldn’t disenfranchise them by passing quickly-crafted and referendum-proof laws.
Think emergency manager. Think right to work. Think keep Michigan wolves protected. I am sorely disappointed by what I witnessed in Lansing.
PAT HARTSOE Grand Rapids
People should vote on hunting issues
In a deliberate attempt to circumvent the constitutional rights of the voters in Michigan, State Sen. Senator Tom Casperson (R-Escanaba) introduced Senate Bill-288 on April 9, 2013. It was approved by a 5 to 2 vote by the Natural Resources, Environment, and Great Lakes Committee and eventually goes to the Governor to be signed into law.
This bill would effectively nullify the efforts of a coalition of over 2,000 conservationists, Native American tribes, scientists and animal welfare interests who turned in more than 255,000 signatures from Michigan voters to place Public Act 520, listing wolves as a game species, to a referendum vote in November 2014.
SB 288 is an obvious attempt to prevent citizens from being able to conduct a constitutionally-guaranteed right to ballot referendum to reverse decisions by the legislature.
In 2006, Michigan voters overwhelmingly rejected a law to allow sport hunting of mourning doves – showing their desire to have the right to vote on wildlife issues. Voters rejected this, casting more votes against shooting doves than they did for any candidate that election. If SB 288 passes, this decisive outcome would be reversed.
SB 288 is a blatant display of political bullying that will put Michigan’s declining wolf population further at risk.
This bill is an extreme power grab by politicians and a deliberate attempt to subvert democracy and silence the voices of Michigan voters.
This type of political maneuvering by our elected officials must be stopped.
HARRY T. EDWARDS Kent City Wolf bill is an abuse of power
A few weeks ago, the Keep Michigan Wolves Protected campaign submitted over 255,000 signatures from registered Michigan voters opposed to sport hunting for wolves. This right to seek a voter referendum on legislation is guaranteed in the Michigan Constitution.
Unfortunately, the politicians in Lansing who most want to see wolves, recently introduced legislation (SB 288) which is exclusively aimed at nullifying this referendum and assuring that Michigan citizens never have a say again in hunting issues. This is not an exaggeration.
The legislation specifically removes all authority of citizens to have a voice about which animals are hunted in Michigan.
Even if you are in favor of hunting wolves, you should be very upset about this abuse of power. Drafting legislation specifically to silence Michigan voters who are following a constitutionally-guaranteed process is a stunning insult to democracy.
Please contact your state senator and state representative immediately and insist that they VOTE NO on SB 288.
TOM LYON New Era
People should decide on wolves
There is a new bill SB288 going through the State Senate this week that will take away all rights of the people of the state to make decisions on any wildlife.
Keep Michigan Wolves Protected collected and submitted 253,000 signatures from people around the state to put the upcoming wolf hunt on the Michigan Ballot in 11/2014. In the meantime, the hunt would be on hold until after the people voted.
Well, Sen. Tom Casperson submitted a bill this last week that would take all rights away from the citizens to have a say on any wildlife issues for all time. It would make the signatures mute, and silence the people and their wishes. This bill will change the constitution of the state and take away peoples voices on any wildlife issues.
He is upset because the wolf hunt which he had submitted, got the brakes put on it by the citizens of the state. So now he is attempting to take away all citizens rights when it comes to wildlife. People need to speak out.
They are changing a law that has been in place since 1908. And ballot proposals in the past that wanted to change our state constitution, were all readily defeated. This bill needs to be stopped. People need to contact their senators and reps……and quickly. It could be law within eight days.
DOROTHY RODGERS Georgetown Township
Lawmakers not following will of the people
Not surprisingly, once again in our State legislature it appears that there is a “do as I say and not as I do” mentality. I am speaking in regard to SB 288 which is being fast tracked to a vote by State Sen. Tom Casperson R-Escanaba. This bill would sign legislation into law that would circumvent Michigan voter’s right to referendum, and includes a non-related appropriation that prevents the voters from rejecting the measure by referendum.
This bill, this is the good Senator’s response to the 253,000 signatures that were delivered to the Secretary of State in March, asking that another bill he was fast tracking; to allow a wolf hunt in Michigan, be put to Voter referendum in 2014.
Apparently Mr. Casperson, who prides himself on being a “sportsman” has no problem trying to write legislation that takes away Michigan voter rights when he doesn’t get his way. In this case, a trophy wolf hunt. This is truly unsportsmanlike conduct in the highest degree as the Senator has little or no regard for due process, let alone the opinions of 253,000 voters…..which was simply to let us decide whether a wolf hunt would be in the best interest of all of Michigan’s residents.
Regardless of how you feel about hunting, this bill works to undermine our right to referendum and to keep our lawmakers in check. I urge you, call or write your legislators and urge them to vote no on SB288.
MARGO BURIAN Grand Rapids”
**Special thanks to: MLive/Grand Rapids Press guest opinion The Grand Rapids Press, for providing this information!