State Senator Laughlin to re-introduce Sunday hunting legislation this month
But over the last several months, he says he feels like he has enough support to bring it back. And this time, he believes it can be passed.
(ERIE, P.A. - WICU/WSEE/CW) –State Senator Dan Laughlin (R-49th District) will once again be taking his shot at changing legislation on Sunday rifle hunting.
He told us Monday he plans to re-introduce his bill, which calls for an extension on popular game hunting from six days to seven.
Pennsylvania Law permits you to hunt animals like crows, foxes, and coyotes on Sundays, but Laughlin is pushing for game like deer and turkeys to be added to the list.
He feels restricting days is unfair to hunters, who may be busy during the six days.
"If I said to you, you're not allowed to watch football on Sunday anymore, you'd probably have a little bit of an issue with that." Loughlin said
He says adding Sunday game hunting could open the door to an increase in young hunters taking part and could result in a revenue increase for the states’ Gaming Commission based off a presumed increase in license sales.
Loughlin referenced a 2011 study done by the commission which says Sunday hunting could’ve produced over $800 million in total economic output including the creation of over 7,000 jobs and over $56 million in state tax revenue.
His last attempt at a bill fell short, but this time, Laughlin says he's found support from constituents and the legislative side.
And with his recent appointment to chair the state senate's Game and Fisheries Committee for the 2019-2020 legislative session, he has even more reason for optimism.
"I believe I have enough votes lined up to get it completely out of the senate and over to the house." said Loughlin
Even with optimism, not everyone supports the idea. Most notably, the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau. They, along with hiking groups argue it’s both a safety and a trespassing issue.
Laughlin says he and co-sponsor James Brewster (D-45th District) made changes to the bill to reflect some of the concern, including stricter penalties on hunters who trespass.
As for any hikers/walkers, Loughlin believes wearing orange reflective safety gear would be their best option.
We spoke with Legislative Director for the Erie County Farm Bureau Nick Mobilia, who says despite the changes, the state’s bureau will not be able to discuss their reactions until they start policy discussions in June.
"We're going to remain opposed because our leadership can't do anything." Mobilia said
Mobilia says the bureau may not have a definitive idea on whether to oppose or not until November.
Mobilia says he's met with Senator Laughlin, and despite any differences, he wishes him the best of luck.
“If he moves forward with this I’m not gonna be mad at him and I hope he's not going to be mad at the farm bureau." Mobilia said
Loughlin says he will be pushing for 12 Sundays to be approved for hunting, but it's ultimately up to the commission to decide.
Even if the legislation passes, Loughlin says you won't be able to hunt until late 2020 at the earliest, as the Gaming Commission will have to implement any new rules beforehand.
We asked you what you felt about Sunday hunting and in an Erie News Now Facebook poll, 67 percent were in favor against 33 opposed. The results were based on roughly 1,300 votes.