One of Arkansas’s most established conservation organizations, the Arkansas Wildlife Federation, announced Tuesday it is opposed to Ballot Initiative #1. If passed by voters the constitutional amendment would require rules and regulations issued by state agencies to be approved by the state legislature.
Ellen McNulty, the President of the Arkansas Wildlife Foundation, said politicizing state agencies is a bad idea.
“The General Assembly would have the final approval to set the hunting season, bag limits, hunting hours, and more and this negates nearly 80 years of professional wildlife management in Arkansas. And the General Assembly would also be able to block regulations put in place by the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality,” said McNulty.
Advocates of Ballot Initiative #1 say increasing legislative overview power will keep state agencies from going beyond their authority. Republican State Senator Johnathan Dismang and Republican Representative Andrea Lea sponsored the measure.
McNulty said the degree to which the legislature will choose to be involved is uncertain but the transfer of power to the legislative branch is not beneficial.
“We really don’t know to what extent it would be used. We just think that giving the state senators and representatives the constitutional authority over fisheries and wildlife management in the state of Arkansas is a bad idea,” said McNulty.
The initiative was not put on the ballot through the petition process but by a nearly unanimous vote from state lawmakers. There was only one dissenting vote in the legislature though Governor Mike Beebe is opposed to the measure.