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SB88 Senate testimony

Discussion in 'Chesapeake Flyway Forum' started by Backpeddler, Feb 10, 2015.

  1. Backpeddler

    Backpeddler Elite Refuge Member

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    So today was day one of testimony for SB88 Strict Liability in the senate. We provided two panels in support of the bill. To show you what we are up against sometimes here are two questions/comments from senators. One senator asked why are we dancing around the issue. I have a farm in VA she said and they bait all the time down there. Why don't we just say everyone can bait. She caught us so off guard, the attorney on our panel was not clear what she was asking. I finally figured out she probably saw VA baiting for deer and assumed it should be comparable to bait geese in MD. I explained the moratorium and the fact we need to keep a certain breeding stock to keep the resource viable and she seemed content with the answer. But man she was pretty sure baiting would be the answer.

    Another senator took the time to comment on the one person in testimony who was against the bill. He said he was just one citizen against an army of NRA, guides, and attorneys. The senator told him people like him were who they need to hear from and their side was equally as important as the army before him. She continued saying how well spoken he was in his argument. :scratch
    Ok that vote went to the other side!

    All in all the testimony was given and it is always hard to read those in attendance. Some senators left in the middle of testimony and did not return. As much as I hate the machine and the process I will give Senator Astle a plug here. After testimony Senator Astle was asked if the committee chair needed any bills put through would Senator Astle maybe vote for her bill to get ours through. He said NO I don't work like that. It has to pass on its own merit. I was pretty happy to hear that from the Senator.

    Now on to the House tomorrow for another round of testimony before another committee.
     
  2. muskrat25

    muskrat25 Elite Refuge Member

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  3. Backpeddler

    Backpeddler Elite Refuge Member

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    Thanks Chop. Our testimony starts at around the 32:40 mark.
     
  4. muskrat25

    muskrat25 Elite Refuge Member

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    Dr. Joe Lamp says "I'm just a citizen....." Pretty funny stuff. But I was surprised NRP wasn't there.

    Also sort of interesting, if you don't mind me saying it, everyone wanted to mirror the Federal standard, but I didn't hear anyone mention the fact that the higher Federal standard also came with the addition of a jail sentence on top of the fine.

    I still like my original idea:

    Keep a version of strict liability hunting over bait but as a civil offense, with maybe a $100 fine and no marks against your criminal or DNR record. Sort of like a speed or red light camera: you get the ticket even if you weren't in the car, but no points for a moving violation even if you were in the car.

    Then make the "knew or should have known" misdemeanor a potentially jailable offense that counts as a DNR violation on your record.

    I am one of those guys that pays for a decent property; decent to me means opportunity there if you work for it, but mostly decent means its large enough and isolated enough that there is no incentive for neighbors to do anything to screw you over. Got a great place to sika deer hunt this year, ticked off the neighbors that it was being hunted. It doesn't include waterfowl rights, but I wouldn't duck hunt there anyway: too big a chance a neighbor would set us up.

    Even so, its part of the reason that I don't waterfowl a whole lot, and if I do its with people that I have known for a long time. There isn't a bird flying or beast walking on this planet that is worth violating a law for me. I have walked out of blinds many a time with one or two birds, or carrying a skunk, and thought "well, at least if anyone's watching they know for sure we aren't using bait!"

    So if was invited somewhere, and The Man popped out and gave me a $100 civil infraction, I'd be "glad" to pay it and consider it a cheap lesson in who I can trust. And if The Man wanted a witness for the real baiting charge against my host, I'd be the first one in line.

    Anyway, just a thought.
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2015
  5. Scotty

    Scotty Elite Refuge Member

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    Or you could just stay with the federal standard, which seems to work in 48 other states...
     
  6. nalley1952

    nalley1952 Elite Refuge Member

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    yep:tu:tu
     
  7. blinddog

    blinddog Elite Refuge Member

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    :scratch


    For what purpose? Extracting money from the unknowing?

    Neighbor throws corn in other end of field, man shows up and gives you a $100.00 ticket. Why? Where is the intent? Where is the knowledge?
     
  8. muskrat25

    muskrat25 Elite Refuge Member

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    Actually, the Federal standard "works" in all 50 states, what with it being Federal.

    One difference is that the Federal government has lots of money to spend on enforcement. They haven't seen their officers numbers diminished, and those that were left intermingled with the park service, or their helicopters sold. I imagine there are the same number of game wardens today on paper, but now they are tasked with monitoring a deer season that runs 7 days a week in some locations, for 5 months straight. Doesn't leave a lot of time for dredging farm ponds for wheat.

    Currently, to make a decent case, they have to get a complaint (since there is no more aerial surveillance), go out in the field and investigate, then go back and wait for someone to hunt over said violation. Now they are going to have to do all the above, plus basically catch the guy baiting the spot first.

    This bill will reduce the number of "innocent" guys charged, but let's face it, this is a boon to the outlaw.

    Obviously there is a potential for "setting someone up", and I probably worry about it as much as the next guy since I tick off actual criminals once in a while, not just keyboard jockeys.

    But let's not kid ourselves, nobody is sneaking onto my lawn to cut it in the middle of the night, and very rarely is anyone going to dump a $10 bag of corn out somewhere to benefit someone else. 95% of the people charged with baiting are guilty of doing it themselves, or paying someone to do it, or at the very least hunting with the guilty guy himself. Many winks and nods have been exchanged between "innocent" guys as ducks poured into a baited spread.

    Currently, there is at least a little incentive for someone to step forward and say "hey, I did it, my buddies/customers didn't know anything about it" and take the ticket while his "innocent" friends get a pass. If this bill passes, everyone can stand there mule-lipped and shrug their shoulders and nobody is going to get convicted, or discouraged from going out and doing it again.

    The reason that waterfowl laws were made strict liability in the first place was because the "victims" can't testify. The crime almost always happens when there are no witnesses, and poachers aren't leaving fingerprints on kernels of corn. Local baiting laws were considered a joke, and guys carried a $20 bill in their wallet to pay the fine. Then the Feds moved in with their stiffer penalties and Federal judges, and it went from the kind of thing guys laughed about openly at the bar that night, to something that was reduced significantly.

    So I like my hybrid civil/criminal idea to at least discourage the blatant violators, but at the very least if all the strict liability part goes, (and I guess there's no reason not to lump in other S/L violations like live decoys, right?) then I think we should follow the Federal standard and include possible jail time.

    The "case that shall not be mentioned" was mentioned yesterday as part of Waterman's testimony. Funny part is, that outfitter in that case called and asked DNR to give him a green light because he thought things looked funny. They declined to come out, and he hunted anyway. So, I think he would have been charged under the "knew or should have known" standard anyway.

    In closing, careful what you wish for. If I were a DNR officer and this passes as written, and I was faced with prosecuting someone with the "knowing" standard, I'd refer the case to Federal court every single time. Why not? Same standard of proof, much bigger penalties, including jail time. (And I'm pretty sure an attorney is going to charge a lot more money to go to Federal Court with you, too.)
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2015
  9. Backpeddler

    Backpeddler Elite Refuge Member

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    Chop I disagree with your civil penalty. $100 to someone who profits from waterfowling is a small price of doing business. Heck the oyster and rockfish violators are paying multiple $ in fines and still going back for a second dip. The penalty needs to be stiff. If the law enforcement can prove a field was baited and the parties took part in the baiting then jail time may be justified.

    If you are a participant and it looked funny and so you knew it was baited then maybe the officer or judge treats that different. I dunno. As far as having to watch a field and see people bait and make a case well that is law enforcements responsibility in every other case of the law is it not? And as far as only being a misdemeanor to those unknowing or innocent I have a problem there too. I am currently submitting my paperwork to the state of MD for my P&C insurance license. Question 5 is Have you ever been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony? Since this is a job that requires fiduciary responsibility they do may revoke your application! The penalty has to fit the crime. But first and foremost for me this is not about hunting. This is about the law that does not assume innocence before guilt. It assumes guilt. I am not a lawyer but is not one of the most sacred principles in the American criminal justice system, holding that a defendant is innocent until proven guilty?
     
  10. carolina girl

    carolina girl Elite Refuge Member

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    I have to agree with the others, chop. With all due respect.

    I'm not gladly handing over 100 bucks to anyone just to do it. I don't agree with speed and red light cameras either. If I'm not driving, regardless of who owns the vehicles, I shouldn't get the ticket.
     

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