Nebraska lawmakers form state sportsman's caucus

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Sportsmen, senators join for new caucus

Lincoln Journal Star

4/4/02

A group of state senators and Nebraska sportsmen club representatives announced the formation of the Unicameral Sportsmen Caucus to promote and educate the Legislature and the hunting-fishing public on issues involving outdoor activates in the state.
The state group is modeled after the Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus that was founded in 1989. All five members of Nebraska's congressional delegation are members of that group, which acts as a liaison between Congress and sportsmen's clubs.

Sen. Ed Schrock of Elm Creek, one of 13 state senators in the new group, is the chairman for the Legislature, and Mike Hutchinson, former president of Pheasants Forever, is the chairman of the seven-member caucus' board of directors.

Schrock said that the recent demise of a plan to raise park entry fees to raise funds for the Game and Parks Department is an example of where a caucus could be more effective than individual senators. He said the focus of the new organization is protecting the future of hunting and fishing and gun laws in Nebraska. "This is not a gun rights organization, but gun control is an important issue to many Nebraskans," Schrock said.

Sen. John Synowiecki of Omaha, vice chairman of the caucus, added, "Accessibility to the Legislature for sportsmen of Nebraska is a key here."

"Too often, the Nebraska Sportsmen Clubs would take a stand on a bill but lack follow-up," said Joe Herrod, former state chairman of Ducks Unlimited and a member of the caucus council. "This way we can keep an ongoing dialogue on issues throughout a session of the Legislature." He added that the flexibility by having access to the 13 senator members would add to the voice of the various sportsman club members.

The group plans monthly meetings during the legislative sessions. Schrock said the caucus would meet in December before each session to talk about bills of interest to sportsmen clubs and Nebraska hunters and anglers.

The other legislative members are: Sens. Ray Aguilar, Grand Island; Tom Baker, Trenton; Matt Connealy, Decatur; Doug Cunningham, Wausa; Cap Dierks, Ewing; Phil Erdman, Bayard; Jim Jensen, Omaha; Jim Jones, Eddyville; Dwite Pedersen, Elkhorn, Adrian Smith, Gering; Gene Tyson, Norfolk.

Directors include: De Carlson, Nebraska Muzzleloaders; Gloria Erickson, Nebraska Council of Sportsmen's Clubs; Herrod; Greg Michl, Lincoln; Paul Pack, Nebraska Wildlife Protectors; Wes Sheets, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, former head of Wildlife and Fisheries, Isaac Walton Foundation.

Reach Ken Hambleton at 473-7251 or khambleton@@journalstar.com.
 


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