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Sen. Shurden Pushes for Passage of Sportsmen Protections, Says Rep. Roach's Concerns are Unfounded

(Oklahoma City) By trying to kill an amendment designed to protect the rights of hunters, anglers and other Oklahoman sportsmen, Representative Russ Roach is threatening the sporting pastimes of hundreds of thousands of Oklahomans, according to the Senate author of the legislation.

Senator Frank Shurden believes that HB 1375 is needed to protect the rights of Oklahoma sportsmen. He noted that the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals or PETA recently attacked the Boy Scouts of America for offering merit badges in "Fishing" and "Fish and Wildlife Management." PETA asked that the merit badges be discontinued, contending that fishing was a "violent pastime." PETA has also indicated that it may go after rodeos and circuses in the future on grounds that they are inhumane.

"Representative Roach is a big city guy who doesn't really care about Oklahomans who like to hunt or fish. He's just carrying water for animal rights activists and the other crazies who would just as soon ban hunting and fishing as look at you. I wouldn't be surprised if he's a card carrying member of PETA," said Sen. Shurden.

HB 1375, as amended by the Henyretta legislator, would ask voters to approve a constitutional amendment that would provide legal protection to hunting, fishing, rodeo and a host of other sporting activities in Oklahoma. The measure is now before the House.

In an effort to derail HB 1375, Rep. Roach issued a press release Tuesday, claiming that there were problems with the bill's language. Sen. Shurden disagrees, however, saying the bill has already passed legal muster.

"Rep. Roach's claims are all hogwash and he knows it," said Sen. Shurden.In response to a critical memo issued by Rep. Roach, Sen. Shurden released a series of legal points defending the legislation.

  • Subsection A does provide for constitutional protection for certain activities which would safeguard these rights at a higher standard than non-constitutional rights. That is the whole point of this legislation. For it to be criticized on that basis evidences a total misunderstanding of the issue.

  • Subsection B protects the ability of the Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Department of Agriculture to use the most current and effective means available to fulfill their constitutional duties to preserve wildlife and domestic animals in this state.

  • Currently both the Department of Agriculture and the Wildlife Department engage in activities designed to limit depredation due to wildlife. This legislation preserves the current roles of both agencies.

  • The United States Constitution contains a supremacy clause which causes federal law to override any provision in the Oklahoma Constitution which would be in conflict with a federal law.

  • House staff is correct that for Constitutionally protected rights, such as this legislation seeks to afford to activities involving animals, the state would have to have a good reason to enact additional laws regulating such activities.

  • House staff is also correct that this legislation affects areas beyond wildlife concerns. It seeks to protect a variety of activities which make up the heritage of this state, including rodeos, horse shows and county fairs.

  • It is intended that this legislation limit the ability of municipalities to enact ordinances which prevent the citizens of this state from engaging in Hunting, trapping, fishing, Sporting and entertainment events and occupations such as ranching.

"The legal points speak for themselves," said Sen. Shurden.

The Henryetta legislator challenged Rep. Roach to trust the people on HB 1375, pointing out that the measure would put the question to a statewide vote.

"I don't understand why Rep Roach is afraid to trust the people on this question. Let's put the bull aside and let the people decide," said Sen. Shurden.

Contact info
Senate Communications Division - (405) 521-5605