Yesterday, the democratic system worked in California. For months sportsmen have been waiting for this moment. For months they’ve been calling their legislators. They’ve driven thousands of miles to the state capital to overwhelmingly pack hearing rooms with opponents of SB 1221. They’ve answered every false charge with the facts about hunting with hounds. They’ve exposed the real agenda of the proponents of the bill.
They watched as anti-hunting Senators added the hunting ban language to a bill that was originally about air quality standards. They watched anti-hunting groups lie to members of a Senate Committee without being challenged to back up their false claims. They watched formerly pro-sportsmen legislators with the opportunity to kill SB 1221 switch sides “so that debate could continue.” They watched as a Republican Senator, recently endorsed by the Humane Society of the United States for his Congressional race, supplied the deciding vote on the Senate floor.
They watched and wondered. Were their efforts making any difference at all? Many of them contacted the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance to search for new methods of attack. A new strategy. Something.
Their Efforts Paid Off
On Tuesday, June 26th, the Assembly Water Parks and Wildlife Committee Chairman Jared Huffman scheduled a vote on SB 1221 on the last meeting of his committee for 2012. HSUS president Wayne Pacelle showed up to testify and take a victory lap. But hunters poured calls into the offices of the members of the committee. And when the vote was called, the anti’s fell one vote short. Two Democratic Assemblymen, Roger Hernandez and Mike Gatto abstained. And one Democrat, Ricardo Lara was absent. On that day the system worked. Not because the committee vote went our way, but because the groups that worked the hardest and had the most support won the day. That is how we were taught in school that our great republic functions.
Unfortunately the War is Not Over
This vote took place during the last scheduled hearing of the Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee. But because it didn’t go their way, the anti’s will pressure Chairman Huffman to pull another political trick, called reconsideration, which allows a bill that has already failed to be voted on again. In between now and then the author of the bill, and his anti-hunting allies, will twist arms and trade horses in an attempt to corral that last vote necessary to pass SB 1221.
In other words, they could get a do-over.
It’s not fair, but that point really doesn’t matter. California sportsmen and women must not give up. They need to make calls and send emails to Assemblymen Gatto (916-319-2043) and Hernandez (916-319-2057) to thank them and to ask them not to cave to pressure from the anti’s. They need to contact Assemblyman Lara (916-319-2050), and ask for his No Vote on SB 1221. They need to call Chairman Huffman (916-319-2006) and ask him to not hold a special hearing.
On Tuesday the system worked. We can only hope that Chairman Huffman will put a stop to the games being played with California’s wildlife. If so, Senate Bill 1221 is likely dead for the year. If not, sportsmen will fight on making calls and visits in the hopes that they will have another day like they had on June 26th.