The behind the scenes story about how the California Senate came to vote to prohibit bear and bobcat hunting with hounds is a real eye-opener to hunters about how state government actually functions in the Golden State. And it should be a lesson to sportsmen nationwide as it would be naïve to believe this couldn’t happen elsewhere.
On May 21, the Senate passed Senate Bill 1221 by a vote of 22 – 15. It takes 21 votes to pass a bill. When a vote is this close, it’s really important to know who sportsmen should hold accountable.
Here are the four Senators most responsible for the hunting ban:
Party Over People:
Lois Wolk (D-Stockton): In the Senate Natural Resources Committee Wolk had a chance to cast the deciding vote to kill SB 1221, but instead committed her yes vote to “make sure that debate goes forward.” She went on to clarify that she wasn’t sure how she would vote on the floor. The bill cleared committee by a single vote.
On the floor, Wolk voted no, but her flip-flop earns her no points by sportsmen whom she deserted when she could have made a difference.
Noreen Evans (D-North Coast): Evans followed Wolk’s lead in committee, committing that she would also vote for the bill if she were the deciding vote. Wolk’s defection let her off the hook, so she abstained from voting at all in committee. On the floor Evans voted no, but her commitment to be the deciding vote if needed let sportsmen know where her loyalties lie.
Both Senators come from districts full of sportsmen and women whom poured in calls, letters, and emails opposing SB 1221. Evans’ and Wolks’ vote to support Democratic party leadership and the anti-hunting lobby over the hundreds of sportsmen and women who packed the committee room should not be forgotten.
Tony Strickland (R-Santa Barbara): One of only two Republicans to support the anti-hunting bill, Strickland recently received the endorsement of the nation’s largest animal rights organization, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) for his campaign for the 26th District seat in the United States Congress. HSUS was the prime sponsor of SB 1221. When the votes were tallied on the Senate floor, Democrats had supplied 20 yes votes. Strickland, the top RINO in the zoo (Republican in name only), cast a yes vote, giving the anti’s 21 total yes votes and passage of their bill. The other Republican Senator voting yes was Bill Emmerson, who was yes vote #22.
While Democrats supplied 91% of the votes to pass SB 1221 on the floor, Evans and Wolk were in the perfect position to kill SB 1221 in committee. Their “NO” votes on the floor are meaningless, and do not fool anyone. Sportsmen are rightfully outraged that when they had the ability to protect California sportsmen and women with a pro-hunting vote, Senators Wolk and Evans let hunters down.
The Republican that broke with his colleagues to cast the deciding vote for SB 1221 provided a crippling blow to sportsmen’s efforts to keep the bill from moving forward to the Assembly. Whether or not endorsements by animal rights groups made the difference is unclear, but Senator Strickland will wear the label of anti-hunting Senator for a long time to come for one reason: he could have killed SB 1221 on the floor. Instead, he was the deciding vote.
At the end of the day, California sportsmen thought they had advocates in these key Senators. Hunters are encouraged to contact Senators Evans, Strickland and Wolk to ask why they betrayed sportsmen when they were needed most.
Here is their contact information:
Senator Noreen Evans: (916) 651-4002
Senator Tony Strickland: (916) 651-4019
Senator Lois Wolk: (916) 651-4005