Senator Denny Hoskins Capitol Report
Defending Our Right to Hunt
This week, I presented legislation that asks Missouri voters to enshrine the right to hunt and fish in Missouri’s Constitution. Senate Joint Resolution 62 simply states that “the citizens of this state have a right to hunt, fish and harvest wildlife.” The measure, which requires a vote of the people, says that no rule or regulation shall unreasonably restrict traditional methods and devices of harvesting fish and game.
The resolution, which was heard by the Senate Agriculture, Food Production and Outdoor Resources Committee, recognizes the role of the Conservation Commission in managing and regulating wildlife and forestry resources in Missouri and does not modify any provision of law relating to trespass or property rights. It does, however, declare that public hunting and fishing shall be the preferred means of managing and controlling Missouri’s wildlife.
Currently, 22 states – including six of the eight surrounding Missouri – have constitutional provisions guaranteeing the right to hunt and fish. While Vermont wrote the right into its constitution in 1777, the other states have all adopted the right in the past 25 years. My sense is that most of these laws were passed in response to threats to traditional hunting and fishing practices from animal rights advocates and anti-hunting organizations. Similar to Missouri’s right-to-farm law, this measure will ensure that our heritage of sportsmanship will continue for generations to come.
In other legislative activity this week, the Senate endured an overnight filibuster lasting more than 18 hours. The lengthy debate stalled a measure to change the way asbestos-related injury claims are handled in Missouri, but lawmakers didn’t waste the time. While discussions continued on the floor, negotiations were underway on a measure to limit punitive damages in Missouri. This bill addresses the huge punishments sometimes awarded in lawsuits. The best example of this was probably the case of the New Mexico woman who was burned by hot coffee served by a fast food restaurant. That woman received $200,000 in compensatory damages, but was initially awarded $2.7 million in punitive damages. Senate Bill 591 limits punitive damages to cases when a plaintiff shows clear and convincing evidence that a defendant “intentionally harmed the plaintiff without just cause or acted with a deliberate and flagrant disregard for the safety of others.” The measure still allows punitive damages when they’re warranted, but I believe it will go a long way to curb frivolous lawsuits and avoid excessive settlements that harm Missouri businesses.
It was my pleasure to welcome a number of visitors to the State Capitol this week. Among those who stopped by the office were Ray County Public Administrator Shannon Wollard, a delegation of motorcycle enthusiasts from District 21 who came to Jefferson City as part of a grassroots advocacy day through the Freedom of the Road Riders organization and a group of extremely bright young students who attended a rally sponsored by the Gifted Association of Missouri. I was especially happy to visit with these exceptional students and tell them about Senate Bill 645, which requires schools to establish specialized educational programs for gifted children.
I’m always happy to take time for visitors from the eight counties I serve in the Senate. Please be aware that the Legislature is typically in session Monday afternoon through Thursday morning, so it’s best if you schedule your visits on those days. A steady schedule of committee hearings and floor action keeps me tied up, but if you’ll reach out to Kelley Rogers in my office, she can help coordinate the best time to stop by. I encourage all visitors to explore our beautiful Capitol building and see the Missouri State Museum on the first floor. Free guided tours of the Capitol are available on the hour, from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m.
As always, I appreciate hearing your comments, opinions and concerns. Please feel free to contact me in Jefferson City at (573) 751-4302. You may also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.