Bill to add Hoosiers' hunting, fishing and farming rights into Indiana's constitution clears Senate

Referendum would appear in 2014

INDIANAPOLIS - An effort to add Hoosiers’ hunting, fishing and farming rights into Indiana’s constitution cleared the state Senate on Monday and is now one step away from going to voters through a 2014 statewide referendum.

The measure’s author, Sen. Brent Steele, R-Bedford, said constitutional protection is necessary to guard against the influence of Humane Society of the United States. He said the group has opposed certain farming practices and sport hunting.

"You think they haven’t spread their tentacles? I merely ask you to go to your computers and look them up," Steele said.

His proposed amendment passed the Senate on a 38-10 vote -- with those who opposed calling the measure unnecessary -- and now heads to the Indiana House. If it’s approved there, it would go on the November 2014 ballot.

Steele said 17 states have written a right to hunt and fish into their constitutions, while only North Dakota -- which "beat us to the punch last year" -- has also added the right to farm.

He said the idea of such constitutional protections has existed since the 1700s, when Vermont guaranteed its residents’ right to hunt.

"The king of England had denied hunting to the people of England, and when they came to our country, our forefathers wanted to guarantee that this would never happen again," Steele said.

Sen. Greg Taylor, D-Indianapolis, said Steele’s amendment is unnecessary because it would change none of Indiana’s current laws.

"Sometimes I wonder what we do here in the Legislature," he said.

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