Hunting, fishing and trapping are not under serious threat in Idaho certainly not a threat that rises to a constitutional crisis.
For that reason alone, voters can comfortably reject House Joint Resolution 2, or HJR 2. Theres no need to clutter the Idaho Constitution with an all-new and unneeded amendment, even one that has a seemingly noncontroversial aim: to uphold the rights of hunters, anglers and trappers.
And heres another compelling reason to vote no on Nov. 6. Beyond the frilly verbiage about preserving a valued part of the heritage of the state of Idaho, this new section opens up test cases in waiting:
The amendment says hunting, fishing and trapping rights shall forever be preserved. Meaning what? Preserved, to the exclusion of any restrictions imposed by the Legislature (which approved this language on a bipartisan basis, with only seven dissenting votes) or the Fish and Game Commission (which endorses the amendment)?
The amendment says hunting, fishing and trapping shall be a preferred means of wildlife management. Preferred, as to what? Does one constitutional preference affect the use of other management approaches?
According to a clause that carries water for the Idaho Water Users Association, this amendment shall not affect rights to divert, appropriate and use water, or establish any minimum amount of water in any water body. Attorney General Lawrence Wasdens office says this language would not prevent the Legislature from establishing a minimum streamflow for wildlife. Maybe. Then again, this language would provide fodder for a group seeking to overturn a minimum streamflow designation.
This could just as easily be called a right to litigate amendment. Speaking of durable rights needing no protection from the Constitution.
SENATE JOINT RESOLUTION 102: VOTE YES
In this case, the issue centers on an existing section of the Constitution, which places the state in charge of probation and parole. But this is not always the case in practice. In Ada County, for instance, Sheriff Gary Raneys office assumed jurisdiction over misdemeanor probation on Oct. 1; the task had been handled previously by a private contractor.
This amendment, a one-word change, clarifies that the state has jurisdiction over felony probation and parole. Its a reasonable step that defines the states role and the role of local entities, and it deserves a yes vote.