January 26, 2023

Pennsylvania Governor Signs Youth Mentoring Bill Into Law

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Governor Ed Rendell became the first Governor in the United States to sign into law a Bill that will allow the Pennsylvania Game Commission to proceed with a youth mentoring program for hunters. This is part of the Families Afield program that Pennsylvania is a part of.

The Bill, HB1690, is non-specific in how the mentoring program will be set up but it will need to follow the regulatory process.

A Committee was formed to work with the Pennsylvania Game Commission on establishing guidelines for the Youth Mentoring Program. That Committee was represented by the following organizations: The State and National Wild Turkey Federation, Pennsylvania Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs, United Bow Hunters of Pennsylvania, Central Counties Concerned Sportsmen, Pennsylvania Game Commission, National Rifle Association, Quality Deer Management Association, Big Brothers/Big Sisters and the U.S. Sportsmens Alliance.

An article yesterday in the CentreDaily.com written by Mark Nale, lists what the recommended guidelines should be.

The points include the following requirements: Establishment of a mentoring adult permit fee; mentors should be at least 21 and provide proof of having passed the Hunter Trapper Education course; youth must stay at arms-length when holding the firearm; the youth should only hold the hunting device when stationary; and only one hunting device should be used.

There were some things about the passage of this bill that I found extremely encouraging. First of all, the Bill, which was authored by Rep. Bruce Smith, when presented to the House for approval, was done so by a vote of 193 – 1. The Bill went on to the Senate where a few amendments were made and was passed 50 – 0. Because of the amendments, the Bill returned to the House floor where again it passed, 195 – 1.

Secondly, the speed in which this Bill made it through the House, the Senate, back to the House and to the Governor’s desk for signage, was remarkable. A sure testimony to the fact that things can happen quickly in politics when there is uniform agreement to a basic belief in an important principal.

Third, in a ceremonial meeting at the Pitcairn – Monroeville Rod and Gun Club in Allegheny County, the Governor made some comments that would seem encouraging to Pennsylvania’s hunters and residents in general. A great breath of fresh air.

“We need this law because for every 100 hunters who retire, only 62 take up the sport,” Rendell said in his address. “If this trend continues, our ability to manage wildlife will be severely affected and Pennsylvania’s economy will suffer. House Bill 1690 is designed to increase sportsmen’s numbers and keep our hunting tradition alive.

“Hunting is a valuable tradition in Pennsylvania, passed on for many generations. Unfortunately, hunting and all the good things that it produces are being threatened by the decrease in our number of hunters. It was incumbent upon us to reverse that trend as swiftly as we could.”

Of course, I would have liked to have seen the Governor take another step toward announcing other reasons why hunting, fishing and wildlife are being threatened, in naming anti-hunting and animal rights groups needlessly consuming millions of dollars and time and energy to rid Americans of their lifelong heritage of hunting and fishing. But, politics is politics.

A great aspect of the passage of this Bill, clearly should send a message to those who would like to upset the heritage of hunting and fishing in Pennsylvania and across other states. With the exception of one dissenter in the House, the Bill passed unanimously in the Senate. The message here is: Pennsylvania is committed to protecting hunting in their state.

We can only hope that other states across this great land will follow the footsteps of Pennsylvania and work diligently to preserve and bolster the hunting and fishing traditions at home.

Tom Remington