Sportsmen proposing three Constitutional amendments this legislative session

Kerri Bickford Capitol twoThe Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine will focus a lot of attention this legislative session on bills to protect hunting, keep wildlife issues off the ballot, and change the way signatures are gathered for ballot initiatives.

SAM’s Executive Director, David Trahan, told me he hopes to pull all sportsmen together in support of the three bills, something that didn’t happen when the same bills were debated at the last legislative session.

Representative Steve Wood is sponsoring two of the Constitutional amendments. One would prohibit citizen ballot initiatives on wildlife issues. The other would establish and protect the right to hunt.

The third Constitutional amendment is sponsored by Representative Ellie Espling. It would require, to qualify an initiative for the ballot, that 10% of those who voted in the last statewide election sign the petitions in each Congressional district. This would, essentially, require more statewide support for an initiative. Right now, it is possible to collect enough signatures in the two most southern counties to qualify for the ballot.

Dave also told me that Representative Louis Luchini is sponsoring a bill to significantly reform the process of collecting signatures for ballot initiatives, including requiring signatures to be verified by notaries that are not paid by the campaigns, providing an online reporting system for suspected fraudulent signature gathering practices, and substantially increasing the penalties for abuses of the process.

Dave said SAM is also backing a bill to ban gun owner registries, based on a Rhode Island law. The bill will prohibit government agencies from keeping lists or registries of privately owned guns and owners of those guns, unless the guns or owners are connected to violent acts.

Finally, Dave told me SAM will work to re-establish a minimum age for hunting, probably 8 years old. This bill, sponsored by Senator Paul Davis, is a response to concerns that even 1-year-olds can hunt and enter moose and other lotteries. Dave explained that this bill would allow kids 5 and older to apply for permits, but they couldn’t win one until they were 8 years old. The legislature eliminated the age limit for hunting just last year.

George Smith

About George Smith

George stepped down at the end of 2010 after 18 years as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time. He writes a weekly editorial page column in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel, a weekly travel column in those same newspapers (with his wife Linda), monthly columns in The Maine Sportsman magazine, two outdoor news blogs (one on his website,, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. Islandport Press published a book of George's favorite columns, "A Life Lived Outdoors" in 2014. In 2014, George also won a Maine Press Association award for writing the state's bet sports blog. In 2016, Down East Books published George's book, Maine Sporting Camps, and Islandport Press published George and his wife Linda's travel book, Take It From ME, about their favorite Maine inns and restaurants.