California Legislative Update for August

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Pending laws that could impact sportsmen and women

BY BILL GAINES

Gaines and Associates

SACRAMENTO – There is never a dull moment when the California State Legislature is open for business.  But with the August 31st close of the 2020 Session rapidly approaching, and several bills still pending, things are unusually hectic.

The status of bills of concern as of August 26  is provided in numerical order below:

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AB 2106 (Aguiar-Curry) – Nesting Bird Habitat Incentive Program: Upland Game Bird Stamp/State Duck Stamp – DEAD

Legislation passed in 2018 required DFW to establish the “Nesting Bird Habitat Incentive Program” (NBHIP) and authorized DFW to make payments or provide other incentives to encourage landowners to voluntarily cultivate or retain upland cover crops or other upland vegetation on their idled lands to provide habitat and nesting cover for waterfowl, upland game birds, and other species.

As amended August 8, 2020, AB 2106 by Assembly Member Cecilia M. Aguiar-Curry (D/4-Davis) would have helped generate the funding necessary to implement the NBHIP by raising the California upland game bird stamp and the state duck stamp by $5 each. AB 2106 would have also created the Nesting Bird Habitat Incentive Program Account within the Fish and Game Preservation Account and required the incremental revenue to be deposited in that Account and available upon appropriation to DFW for the NBHIP. AB 2106 would have also allowed DFW to use NBHIP funds to enter into contracts with nonprofit organizations to further the Program.

Although this positive legislation had yet to suffered a single “no” vote and could have been implemented at no cost to the state, AB 2106 failed to be heard and pass out of the Senate Appropriations Committee last week.  AB 2106  is dead.

AB 3030 (Kalra) – Resource Conservation: Land and Ocean Conservation Goals – DEAD

As amended August 13, 2020, AB 3030 by Assembly Member Ash Kalra (D/27-San Jose) would have declared it to be goals of the state to, by the year 2030, protect at least 30% of California’s land areas and waters; to help advance the protection of 30% of the nation’s oceans; and to support regional, national, and international efforts to protect at least 30% of the world’s land areas and waters and 30% of the world’s ocean.

Although, on the surface, the goals of this legislation may have been embraced by many in the hunting and angling community, a careful read of this poorly written bill and a look at the long list of sponsors caused serious concern.  Among many other things, although the bill called out goals for the total percentage of our lands and waters that should be “protected”, its language failed to identify the extent of existing protections already in place (i.e. the baseline).  Even more troubling, the bill did not expressly define what the legislation meant by the word “protect”.  As such, should the intent of AB 3030 been interpreted and  implemented wrongly over the next decade, the “protections” AB 3030 called for could have resulted in sweeping closures to public access to much of California’s lands and waters, and the hunting and fishing opportunities they currently do or could provide.

AB 3030 failed to be heard and pass out of the Senate Appropriations Committee last week.  AB 3030 is dead.

SB 914 (Portantino) – Firearms: Hunting Exemptions – ALIVE

Existing law prohibits the sale or transfer of a firearm by a licensed firearm dealer to a person under 21 years of age, but exempts from those provisions the sale or transfer of a firearm – other than a handgun or semiautomatic centerfire rifle – to a person 18 years of age or older who possesses a valid, unexpired hunting license.

As introduced, SB 914 by Senator Anthony J. Portantino (D/25-Glendale) did little more than require salespersons to visually inspect and record the number, validity dates and GO ID of the hunting license of individuals under 21 years of age who desired to purchase a long gun.  However, as amended May 11, 2020, SB 914 would now place numerous additional costly and needless restrictions on the purchase and transfer of firearms and firearm parts by law abiding citizens, while also threatening many youth hunting and shooting programs.

To begin, as amended, SB 914 would also require Department of Justice (DOJ) to confirm the validity of the hunting license as part of the background check for the sale of a long gun to persons under the age of 21.  Further, as most know, as of July 1, 2019, the law requires that DOJ electronically approve the purchase or transfer of ammunition through a vendor.  However, existing law also limits the fee charged for DOJ approval of an ammunition purchase to $1.00, with that fee only allowed to be increased at a rate not to exceed any increase in the California Consumer Price Index.  As amended, SB 914 would also remove the $1.00 fee limitation – effectively allowing the fee charged for approval of ammunition transaction to substantially increase.

Perhaps of greatest concern are amendments taken into the bill that would require a parent or legal guardian to personally attend any shooting sports program practice or event sponsored by a school, shooting team or club; state Hunter Education Program class; special youth (apprentice) hunt held by DFW, a conservation organization or other entity; or any other camp or event where firearms are used by youth – doing substantial unreasonable harm to lawful and appropriately supervised recreational shooting and hunting programs offered to our youth, and our statewide Recruitment, Retention and Reactivation (R3) effort to promote a stronger future for hunting, fishing, and the shooting sports in California.

SB 914 passed through the Senate and off the Senate Floor via party-line votes in June.  On the Assembly side, SB 914 passed out of the Assembly Public Safety Committee in early August and out of the  Assembly Appropriations Committee to the Assembly Floor last week via  party-line votes.

SB 914 must  pass off the Assembly Floor and to the Governor’s desk by close of Session August 31 to remain alive.

SB 1175 (Stern) – “Iconic African Species Protection Act”/Live Animal Markets – ALIVE

Among other things, SB 1175 by Senator Henry I. Stern (D/27-Calabasas) would enact the “Iconic African Species Protection Act” and would prohibit the possession of any part, product, or the dead body of African elephant, African lion, leopard, black rhinoceros, white rhinoceros, giraffe, Jentink’s duiker, plains zebra, mountain zebra, hippopotamus, and striped hyena.  Among other things, SB 1175 would exempt articles possessed for noncommercial purposes that the owner can demonstrate were in their possession within California before January 1, 2021.

SB 1175 passed through the Senate and off the Senate Floor in late June.  Once in the Assembly, SB 1175 passed out of  the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee in early August  and out of  the Assembly Appropriations Committee to the Assembly Floor last week via  partisan vote after a lively debate.

SB 1175 must be passed off the Assembly Floor, go back to the Senate for their concurrence of amendments taken on the Assembly side, and to the Governor’s desk by close of Session August 31 to remain alive.

Bill Gaines is the President of Gaines & Associates Government Relations, Sacramento. His love for the outdoors, extensive experience, excellent track record and well-known name in public policy compelled him to establish his own private government relations firm in 2013 which concentrates on wildlife management and environmental policy. Gaines & Associates focuses on issues pending in the State Legislature and in front of the Fish & Game Commission  that could impact science-based wildlife management and hunting and fishing opportunity for California’s sportsmen and women.  

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