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Virginia legislation for outdoors and firearms update

It is that time of year when our state legislators are busy representing us in Richmond. Delegate Ransone and Senator Stuart have both put forth bills to be heard. In addition, there are other bills that sportsmen and women should be aware of. Game and Inland Fisheries has a link on their website for the related bills at http://www.dgif.virginia.gov/legislation/.

This link is very useful and gives a summary of the bills with the ability to click on the bill itself to get more details. Below is a print version of what is going on, as I have summarized it from this website. I chose bills that I thought would be of interest to local sportsmen and women.

HB 127 De. Scott—Would allow the use of certain muzzleloader pistols for hunting during muzzleloader seasons.

Thoughts: Pistols are tough to shoot accurately at any distance beyond 20-25 yards. However, it would be nice to have a muzzleloader pistol option.

HB 307—Del. Lingamfelter—Would allow local school boards to provide hunter education classes after school for grades 7-12. These classes would be taught by certified instructors.

Thoughts: I cannot find anywhere that prohibits schools from offering the program. In fact, I took a hunter education class during school hours in King George as a student. Not sure the bill is needed, although I think we need to offer the course in our schools even if kids don’t hunt. The gun safety part of the program would help prevent accidents in the future.

HB 650—Del. Ransone--Boating safety course. Exempts persons 45 years of age, or older on July 1, 2014, from having to pass a boating safety education course in order to operate a motorboat, if they possess a currently valid motorboat registration certificate. The bill also exempts persons who hold various landings and aquaculture licenses and permits from the Virginia Marine Resources Commission from the requirements of the boater safety education course. SB 52 by Sen. Stuart appears to be the same.

Thoughts—I think this is a very reasonable bill that would not detract from the safety of our boaters on the water.

Inexperience tends to be the problem with boating accidents or alcohol-related issues. In fact, I wish the legislature would exempt those who have held a boating registration for ten years consecutively.

HB 715—Del. Wright Jr.—Establishes a combined archery and crossbow license for $17, or $30 for non-residents.

Thoughts—Not sure why the delegate wanted to cut the price. The current price is $18 per license. Now, you would get both for $17. While I am all about saving money, I would think that would hurt an already struggling agency that serves us. Perhaps raising the fee to $25 would be reasonable and still save hunters money.

HB 735—Del. Lingamfelter — Requires any property owner posting notice of a claim of a right in a submerged bottomland, also to post the location where a record of the special grant for the property may be found.

Thoughts—Personal property rights are near and dear to me. However, public waters are public, and I suspect this bill has a relation to the fight in the western portion of our state where anglers are banned from floating and fishing a stretch of a river by a person claiming a King’s Grant.

HB 857—Del. Fariss — Removes the exception allowing those hunting during the special season for hunting deer with a muzzle-loading rifle to refrain from wearing certain blaze orange clothing.

Thoughts—If I feel like I might encounter other hunters on my land or land I hunt, I can put on blaze orange if I feel the need. There is no law against wearing blaze orange.

HB 1250/1237/SB 154—Bills would permit Sunday hunting in some form.

Thoughts—Personally, I am against the idea. During the fall, the woods are beautiful, and non-hunters might want to enjoy the woods with us, without wandering into areas we are hunting or messing up our hunting. Why not continue to allow this and let the woods rest? They have a right to enjoy the woods, too. I only know of a small number of people that would like to hunt on Sunday.

SB 145 — Sen. Stuart —  Establishes a special $10 license for hunting foxes, with hounds but without firearms. The license exempts the licensee from the requirement that he/she complete a hunter education program.

Thoughts—Being that fox hunters are using the management/resources that hunters have paid for, it is a small thing to ask that they purchase a license at just over half the cost of a regular license. However, by doing this, those same individuals may want a bigger piece of the pie and more foxes in the state. Perhaps if fox hunters hold a regular hunting license, they should not have to purchase this license?

SB 602—Sen. Stuart — Prohibits the placement of non-riparian stationary blinds in a marked navigation channel. The bill also removes the prohibition against such blinds being located in waters having a depth greater than eight feet at mean high tide.

SB 629 —  Sen. Marsden —  Provides that no person who is recreationally floating upon certain waters in a non-motorized vessel shall be liable for civil or criminal trespass. The bill provides that existing ownership rights in real property shall remain unchanged.

Thoughts—Unfortunately necessary to protect anglers and hunters, due to a case that got out of hand in the western portion of our state.

There are a number of firearms-related bills on the floor of the House and Senate. PLEASE let your representative know how you feel on these bills. http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?141+sbj+068

Del. Ransone
General Assembly Building, Rm 809
Capitol Square
Richmond, Virginia 23219
(804) 698-1099
email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Senator Stuart
General Assembly Building, Rm 302
Capitol Square
Richmond, Virginia 23219
(804) 698-7528
email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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