Chesterton Tribune


Indiana Senate approves right to hunt and farm proposal

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Voters would decide in next year's election whether to add the right to hunt, fish and farm to the Indiana constitution under a proposal approved Monday by state senators.

The Senate voted 38-10 in favor of the proposed amendment, which, if the House also approves it, would go before voters in the 2014 general election.

Indiana would join several other states adopting similar measures that supporters say are needed because wildlife hunting and modern agricultural practices are threatened by animal-rights activists.

Some senators questioned whether the provision would interfere with the ability of local governments to regulate farming.

Sen. Brent Steele, the amendment's sponsor, said state laws and agencies would still cover hunting, fishing and farming and that local governments would have whatever authority the Legislature allows.

Steele, R-Bedford, said the amendment would protect the state's $8 billion a year in agricultural products sold and more than 950,000 residents who hunt or fish each year from animal-rights groups organized around the country trying to impose more limits.

"You think they haven't spread their tentacles?" Steele said. "I merely ask you to go to your computers and look them up."

Seventeen states now have guaranteed the right to hunt and fish in their constitutions, with all those measures except for Vermont being approved since 1996, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. North Dakota voters approved constitutional protection for farming last year, making it the first state to do so.

Sen. Greg Taylor, D-Indianapolis, voted against the proposed amendment, saying it was unnecessary because hunting and farming are already protected by state law and that no one is trying to change that.

"I just wonder why we're doing these things," Taylor said. "There hasn't been one state in the country to make it illegal to hunt and fish."

The same proposal was approved by wide margins two years ago in both the House and Senate, the first of two separate Legislatures that the measure must clear before going on the statewide ballot.




Posted 2/11/2013