April 22, 2018

Maine’s Legislature Overrides LePage’s Anti-Hunting Veto

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How much clearer do you send a message to the governor than to override his veto in both houses with unanimous votes? Such was the case in Maine as the Legislature by votes of 33-0 in the Senate and 148-0 in the House overrode Governor LePage’s veto of bill LD 1816.

If you recall I recently made comments on two bills that the governor signed his veto to – LD 1816 and LD 1823.

LD 1816 was more of a discriminatory bill than anti-hunting. This issue stems from making laws to stop illegal baiting of deer for hunting purposes. The initial passage of a bill aimed at addressing this concern came last year when the Legislature passed LD 1083. In that bill, the punishment for a second offense of hunting over bait required a lifetime loss of hunting privileges. Some, like Sen. Davis, believed that punishment to be beyond the scope of the severity of the crime and wished to amend that bill to make a second-offense punish a two-year license loss. LD 1816 passed both houses but the governor vetoed it. The vote to override was unanimous.

In my comments about LePage’s veto I wrote: “Until such time as Maine can get their act together to better lay out the exact definition of “bait” and at the same time rid the conflicts between growing “crops” and hunting over those and hunting over bait placed by a hunter – as though growing a crop to hunt over is any different than dumping a bag of apples under a tree stand – I cannot agree with LePage’s veto of this bill.”

Senator Paul Davis was quoted in the Piscataquis Observer that: “The fact of the matter is, deer baiting laws only really apply to hunters who don’t have the economic means to purchase land and manage for crops that attract deer. It is perfectly legal to hunt over a crop, yet it is illegal to hunt deer over a pile of apples. This discrepancy in Maine law treats some hunters differently than others, and I don’t believe that it is fair. That’s why I feel strongly that this crime shouldn’t carry a more severe penalty than other crimes that are much worse, such as hunting game out of season or illegal night hunting.”

Now perhaps it is time for some Maine politician(s) to do the right thing and step forward to change the recent law (LD 557) passed that wrongly punishes hunters more than all others for the same crime. Unconstitutional Animus, or a serious violation of equal protection under the law, does not permit a more severe punish against one group over another. Last June (2017) I wrote: “I believe the term that might apply to such an egregious violation of due process, can be found in Supreme Court cases that involve “unconstitutional animus.” If you Google that term, you can spend hours reading about what this term is and how it affects all of us. In brief, unconstitutional animus is a violation of equal protection under the law. In this case, a hunter or fisherman is not afforded the same due process and equal protection as someone else who might commit the same crime.”

The Maine legislature has righted one wrong in bringing the punishment for hunting over bait back to something more sensible. They still need to clear up the contradictions and definitions between hunting over a crop and hunting over a bait pile.

Now if they can straighten out this ridiculous discriminatory law that targets hunters for greater punishment than all other groups, things would be better off.

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