To the editor:
On April 9, State Senator Tom Casperson introduced SB288, a bill that would enable the 7-member Natural Resources Committee, appointed by Governor Snyder, to designate a particular animal as a game species.
They would share this responsibility with the legislature, but would have no control over removing the designation for any given species. This is mistakenly being touted as a "science-based" move.
Under current law, legislators can designate a species as a game animal and the Michigan Natural Resource Commission, working with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, will then decide whether or not there should be a hunting season and establish the rules and regulations governing the season.
This is part of a system of checks and balances that is vital for fair governance and wise decision-making in matters of wildlife management, which requires that those decisions be "based on the best available scientific information," not politics.
Also part of the system of checks and balances is the right of citizens to request a direct vote on recently passed laws. Attaching appropriations (spending provisions) to a bill to avert the possibility of referendum, as with SB288, is a subversion of the democratic process in this state.
The escalating use of this strategy by our legislators should be of great concern. In this case, where signatures have already been collected, it is like tearing up the ballot while the voters are on their way to the polls.
SB288 isn't just about wolves. It would take away your right to challenge what might be ill-advised and/or hasty decisions on any listing of an animal as a game species in this state. Those decisions could not be reversed except through the legislature, in direct contradiction to the constitutional right of citizens to overturn laws with which we do not agree.
We already have a science-based system that works. That's not what this is really about. Casperson's bill - not a direct vote via referendum, as he has stated -"takes away the will of the people." The bill is another ploy to transfer vital decision-making powers from knowledgeable experts and from the people to ill-informed politicians. It has no merit.
SB288 sailed through the Natural Resources Committee on the 11th and is expected to pass the Senate before making its way to the House, but there is still time to provide input.
Please contact your legislators and direct them to reject Senate Bill 288.