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Thursday, February 12, 2015

Ind. Gov't. - Legislators continues efforts to limit DNR enforcement authority through legislation and constitutional amendment

Today the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette editorializes:

State Rep. Jud McMillin thinks there’s a better way for taxpayers to spend $6 million than on conservation officers. He wants to cut the Department of Natural Resources’ law enforcement force by a third and spend the money on recreation areas – in his own district.

McMillin is a Brookville defense attorney who has represented clients in 18 criminal cases involving DNR conservation officers. His House Bill 1611 would prohibit conservation officers from making traffic stops off DNR-owned properties unless they witness a felony. It also would prohibit them from issuing tickets for possession of alcohol in areas where it is banned if the boater involved is moving to an area where it is legal to possess it. Last year, he proposed legislation to limit the reasons DNR officers could stop a boater.

Jeff Wells, president of the Indiana Conservation Officer Organization, told the Indianapolis Star the most recent bill leaves the state’s conservation officers “fighting for air” and that McMillin’s bill demonstrates an “increasing disconnect” between elected officials and the officers protecting the state’s natural resources and outdoor enthusiasts. The legislation would eliminate about 75 of the state’s 214 conservation officer positions.

This reminded the ILB of a bill passed last year, SEA 52, by Senator Brent Steele, that conservation officers claim decriminalized poaching.

Steele is also the author of a proposed constitutional amendment, SJR 2, which would establish a right to hunt, fish and harvest wildlife in the Indiana Constitution. If passed this session, it would go on the 2016 ballot. Dan Carden of the NWI Times reported on the measure Feb. 10th.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on February 12, 2015 01:36 PM
Posted to Indiana Government