September 26, 2020

Sen. David Langhorst Wants To Set The Record Straight

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The elk farming debate in Idaho has been lively with passions being exemplified on both ends of the issues. I have been careful to print what I know to be fact or information from other sources. Whenever I receive information from others, it is my intention to let the reader know where the information came from and provide a link so readers have an option to go there and read for themselves.

Up until just recently, anything I quoted from another source was highlighted in the publication as an indentation. Believing that this indentation wasn’t revealing and obvious enough, with the help of my son, we were able to make a couple of template changes in our program software and that is why now you are seeing a shaded box instead of the indent.

On January 18, 2007 I received a telephone call from Senator David Langhorst of Idaho. Sen. Langhorst is a democrat from Boise and is a member of the Idaho Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus and the Idaho Sportsmen’s Caucus Advisory Council. The ILSC is fashioned after the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus in Washington, D.C., a group of senators and congressmen from both parties who help to represent the interests of sportsmen. The Idaho Sportsmen’s Caucus Advisory Council is a state level organization that represents several Idaho sportmen’s groups.

The telephone call from Mr. Langhorst was mostly in reference to my article I wrote on January 10, 2007 titled, “The Anatomy of Idaho’s Domestic Elk Quagmire“. Langhorst made reference to statements I made that said he voted against the right to hunt amendment being debated in the senate. He wanted the record set straight that he did not vote against that amendment.

I wasn’t aware that I had written any such thing and pointed out that what he was reading to me was a quote taken from an article written by George Dovel called, “The Domestic Elk Controversy” published in The Outdoorsman (Oct-Dec. 2006 Bulletin Number 21) specifically page 6. This is exactly what I wrote and followed it with Dovel’s statement in his article. (The first quote box are my words. The second are George Dovel’s.)

Also in 2006, Langhorst was instrumental in killing a Constitutional amendment to protect hunting, fishing, etc.

Also in the 2006 session, HSUS opposed SJR 105, the right to hunt amendment, which provided that “all wildlife within the state shall be preserved, protected, perpetuated and managed to provide continued supplies for the citizens of Idaho to harvest by hunting, fishing and trapping for the continued benefit of the people.” Instead of debating the proposed Constitutional amendment in the Senate Resource Committee where it passed unanimously in their absence, Sen. Langhorst helped Sen. Little destroy its chance of passing by the required two-thirds majority in the full Senate by offering an ineffective substitute immediately before it was voted on.

If I understand the process correctly, SJR105 was the amendment that seemed to have a near unanimous approval of the Senate. This is the text of the Bill.

SECTION 1. That Article I, of the Constitution of the State of Idaho be
24 amended by the addition of a NEW SECTION, to be known and designated as Sec-
25 tion 23, Article I, of the Constitution of the State of Idaho, and to read as
26 follows:

27 SECTION 23. RIGHT TO HUNT, FISH AND TRAP. All wildlife within
28 the state of Idaho shall be preserved, protected, perpetuated and
29 managed to provide continued supplies for the citizens of Idaho to
30 harvest by hunting, fishing and trapping for the continued benefit of
31 the people. The taking of wildlife, including all wild animals, birds
32 and fish, by hunting, fishing and trapping is a valued part of our
33 heritage and shall be a right preserved for the people. The exercise
34 of this right by the people shall not be prohibited, but shall be
35 subject to the laws, rules, and proclamations of the state. The
36 rights set forth herein do not create a right to trespass on private
37 property or lead to a diminution of other private rights and shall
38 not be construed to prohibit or in any way affect rights established
39 to divert, appropriate, and use water pursuant to Article XV or the
40 statutes and rules enacted pursuant thereto, or to establish any min-
41 imum amount of water in any stream, river, lake, reservoir or other
42 watercourse or water body.

This amendment seemed a certainty to pass until information provided by the Attorney General concerning water issues began making senators question whether the bill would stand up under certain legalities. It was at this point in time that Sen. Langhorst wanted to introduce language from a similar bill that Montana had used but due to rules, he says it wasn’t possible.

After discussion SJR106 was introduced.

SECTION 23. RIGHT TO HUNT, FISH AND TRAP. All wildlife within
29 the state of Idaho shall be preserved, protected, perpetuated and
30 managed to provide continued supplies for the citizens of Idaho to
31 harvest by hunting, fishing and trapping for the continued benefit of
32 the people. The taking of wildlife, including all wild animals, birds
33 and fish, by hunting, fishing and trapping is a valued part of our
34 heritage and shall be a right preserved for the people. The exercise
35 of this right by the people shall not be prohibited, but shall be
36 subject to the laws, rules, and proclamations of the state. The
37 rights set forth herein do not create a right to trespass on private
38 property or lead to a diminution of other private rights and shall
39 not be construed to prohibit or in any way affect rights established
40 to divert, appropriate, and use water pursuant to Article XV or the
41 statutes and rules enacted pursuant thereto, or to establish
42 expressly or by implication any minimum amount of water in any
43 stream, river, lake, reservoir or other watercourse or water body.

It is this turn of events that lead George Dovel, in his “Elk Controversy” article to state,

Instead of debating the proposed Constitutional amendment in the Senate Resource Committee where it passed unanimously in their absence, Sen. Langhorst helped Sen. Little destroy its chance of passing by the required two-thirds majority in the full Senate by offering an ineffective substitute immediately before it was voted on.

When SJR106 came up for a vote, normal proceedings as I understand them, is for a first round vote followed by a second vote and in this case a third. Although the status of the bill on the senate website only lists the outcome of the third and final vote, I have been told that Sen. Langhorst did not vote in the first round.

Sen. Langhorst wants me to recant a statement that he voted against the right to hunt bill. Neither I nor George Dovel ever made that statement. It is my opinion that from the information I have read, that not only the Attorney General’s information submitted just prior to the vote was instrumental in killing the bill, so was what Langhorst provided.

Dovel never said that Langhorst voted against SJR106. He said what I believe to be a fair assessment of the events, that by Sen. Langhorst offering different text, similar to a Montana bill, it further raised fear and skepticism among the Senators before a vote was taken.

In George Dovel’s article “Senate Leaders Kill Right To Hunt, Fish, Trap”, in the Feb.-Mar. 2006 issue of The Outdoorsman, Dovel explains the series of events leading up the the vote on the right to hunt amendment. Once the vote was taken, 18 for and 16 against (a 2/3 majority is needed), Dovel e-mailed the 16 senators who voted in opposition to the bill and asked for an explanation. He also e-mailed Senator Langhorst asking for an explanation. This is what Dovel wrote in his article leading up to the e-mail response by Sen. Langhorst.

I also sent an email to Sen. Langhorst explaining that several Senators had told me they had voted against SJR 106 because his reading of, and explanation about, the Montana amendment convinced them it was a better solution. I explained that he had the opportunity to work within the Resource Committee to amend the resolution rather than debate against it on the Senate floor and asked him why he chose to work outside of the Committee.
I invited him to state his position to those who read The Outdoorsman and I offered to print it, without editing,

Below is a copy of Sen. Langhorst’s response. I should also point out that he e-mailed me a copy of the same response that he sent to Dovel and what was printed in The Outdoorsman. Here’s his response.

I am happy to explain my role regarding the floor debate and vote on SJR106. Regarding other Senators’ votes, I can only tell you what I saw and heard. One thing I can say for all the Senators I talked to (nearly everyone) is that everyone supports the right to hunt. It would be grossly naive and unjust to accuse anyone of NOT supporting the right to hunt based on this vote. This vote was far more complicated than the casual observer might assume.
As you stated, I had the opportunity to send the resolution to the amending order. That was exactly what I worked to do leading up to the vote. After I learned about the mounting concerns among various Senators, and after learning about the new input from the Attorney General’s office which created my own concerns, I worked with Sen. Edmunson on several possible amendments to make the wording of the proposed amendment shorter, less complicated and acceptable to more Senators. I chose amendments based on Montana’s right-to-hunt, and as I vetted this amendment around I believe I was gaining ground to get the Resolution passed. I had the amendment printed and ready, but in order to get an amendment through the Senate by the 55th day as required, I would have needed unanimous support to suspend rules and go into the 14th Order that day.
I mentioned all of this when I spoke on the Senate floor. In your description of my debate, you left a very important point out: my discussion of the email being sent to various Senators by Norm Semanko of the Idaho Water Users Association titled “Oppose the Langhorst Amendment.”
Upon learning of this email, and gauging the amount of support that the Water Users have here, I knew it would be useless to try to get unanimous consent for an amendment process. Just one vote would have stopped that effort. So the Water Users got their way; SJR106 went up for a vote as written and you know the result.
Your statement that I debated against SJR106 is false. Because so many Senators anticipated my amendment, I described during debate my efforts to get more support for SJR106 by simplifying it and why, with the waters poisoned by IWUA, I was not making the motion to amend. But that is not at odds with my vote for the amendment. I voted for it in 2003 (HJR 11) and I voted for it this year. Having said that, I would remind your thoughtful readers to consider the Attorney General’s opinion, the seriousness of amending Idaho’s Constitution, the insistence by the IWUA to add language regarding Minimum Stream Flows, and the fact that there was a better solution with simpler langauge that I believe could have passed. As one who voted for SJR106, I would point out that any effort to impugn those who voted against this resolution as opposed to hunters’ rights is simply wrong. It also undermines Rep. Edmunson’s current and future efforts, which I assume you would rather assist?
Thanks for the opportunity to address your readers!

Tom Remington

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