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Resolution that would ask voters to add hunting, fishing, trapping as constitutional rights killed

PIERRE -- South Dakotans won't get the chance to vote on whether they think hunting, fishing and trapping should be rights detailed in the state Constitution.

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Hunters walk through a field in this file photo. (Daily Republic file photo)

PIERRE - South Dakotans won’t get the chance to vote on whether they think hunting, fishing and trapping should be rights detailed in the state Constitution.

House Joint Resolution 1001 would have put the matter before voters during the next general election. However, it was killed Wednesday by the Senate State Affairs Committee on a 9-4 vote.

“Don’t screw with the Constitution,” was the simple message from Sen. Larry Rhoden, R-Union Center, who voted no.

Rep. Drew Dennert, R-Aberdeen, sponsored the resolution. He said 21 states already have similar constitutional amendments, and two others have amendments citing fishing as a constitutional right.

Dennert said the idea was proposed by a friend and the wording was based largely on the amendments in the North Dakota and Wyoming Constitutions. He said the resolution was designed to protect property rights.

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But not everybody agreed as opponents raised concerns, including about the resolution’s wording.

Generally speaking, representatives from outdoors and hunting groups testified in favor of the resolution while officials from ag groups spoke against it.

Michael Held, with South Dakota Farm Bureau, said the South Dakota Constitution is a hallowed document and that alterations shouldn’t be made lightly.

Rep. Mark Mickelson, R-Sioux Falls, said he appreciates the spirit of the resolution, but has concerns about how it could affect private property rights.

Rep. David Lust, R-Rapid City, said there’s nothing in the Constitution that guarantees somebody the right to be a farmer or a firefighter or a police officer. Such stipulations aren’t necessary, he said, nor is detailing hunting, fishing and trapping rights in the Constitution.

“We all know hunting is near and dear to the vast majority of South Dakotans,” Lust said.

Rhoden echoed those comments. He said Dennert’s ideas would work well in the form of a general resolution that declares support for outdoors activities, but they don’t need to be in the constitution.

There’s no need to “dink” with the state Constitution to get an emotional high, Rhoden said.

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Related Topics: HUNTINGFISHING
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