VEHLE: Foreign laws, waterfowl hunting, underage drinking getting attentionThis past week, we had some interesting bills on the floor and in all three committees I serve.
By: State Sen. Mike Vehle, R-Mitchell
First of all, I want to thank the people that attended the cracker barrel session in Plankinton last Saturday.
It was a very good turnout and there were a variety of issues discussed. As I said then, some issues are a lot easier to vote on than others. After all amendments have passed or failed, you either have to vote for or against the final product, and it may not be exactly what you’d like.
This past week, we had some interesting bills on the floor and in all three committees I serve. In Judiciary, we had a bill that set out to regulate the application of foreign laws and legal codes in our legal system. The wording in the bill was, in part, “it is the public policy of the state to protect its citizens from the application of foreign laws, legal codes” that will result in the violation of a right guaranteed by the Constitution of the state or of the United States.
After long testimony, I asked the simple question of how this bill if it became law would provide any more protection than the laws and Constitution we live by now.
I did not get a good reason why we needed another law that said we had to abide by our current laws or the Constitution. It was then asked if there was any example of this being a problem in our legal system. There was one case on the East Coast where a judge used a foreign law to make a ruling, but it was overturned by a higher court. Although well intended, the majority of us on the committee felt we did not need another law that said we needed to abide by the Constitution and the laws already on the books.
In the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, we had several hunting issues. One bill was to basically double the out-of-state waterfowl season by allowing two separate five-day licenses rather than one 10-day license.
It failed. Another was to allow landowner deer preference tags to be transferable to anyone. After considerable discussion, it was determined there were just too many loopholes in the bill and even after being amended it failed.
On the floor, we discussed many issues, including one that some called the “Good Samaritan Bill.” The situation regarded underage drinking where a person was in need of medical attention.
Too many times, because of the fear of prosecution, kids have not called for help as they were afraid of losing their driver licenses, their scholarships, etc., and so they just hoped that the person would wake up and be OK. After much discussion in committee, it was amended to only be for “emergency” medical attention and that the only immunity would be for underage drinking. There would be no immunity for any ancillary offenses such as a car accident or rape and only one person who remained with the victim and helped authorities would be eligible for this limited immunity. After considerable discussion, it passed the Senate 27-6.
This week will be busy as Monday, Feb. 13, is the very last day to move a bill out of the committee of the house of origin. Therefore, some committees are starting their meetings at 7 a.m., others are meeting over noon until 1 p.m., and other committees may reconvene after the floor session.
At 10 a.m. Saturday, we will have a cracker barrel in Mitchell at the MTI south campus. I look forward to visiting with you there.
Mike Vehle, of Mitchell, is a Republican representing Davison and Aurora counties in the state Senate.