HEADS AND SKINS, THE CHANGING OF WISCONSIN STATE STATUTE 29.347(3)
By Leonard Gums
Back in August of 2001, Brian Olson and I volunteered to be on the WTA’s Legislative Committee in Prairie du Chien. One of the issues that was brought up at that August meeting was Wisconsin State Statute 29.347(3), HEADS and SKINS. This state statute was outdated and unfair to many taxidermists here in Wisconsin. Members of the WTA have been asking for years to get this statute changed and updated to apply to present taxidermy practices. When Brian and I took on this project, we did not know the legislative process for changing a state statute but we learned as we went along. We did realize right away that this would be a slow process.
We started by contacting Tom Solin, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources(WDNR) Chief of Special Operations, whom retired while we were in the process of changing s.s. 29.347(3). He was in total agreement of the changes and that the WDNR was more than willing to help us get the changes done. Tom informed us that the changes would have to be implicated and pushed through the Assembly and Senate by us, as this would probably never be considered a priority issue to them and would have little chance of getting passed. Tom Solin arranged for us to work with Tom Van Haren, Wisconsin WDNR Policy Officer. Tom does most of the interpreting of the WDNR laws and also makes the changes of older statutes and the writing of new statutes. Tom was the person that spent a lot of time investigating s.s. 29.347(3), and then rewriting the statute in terms to satisfy everyone. Tom has been extremely helpful in assisting the WTA with these changes and helping with other issues that arose during this time period. Without Tom’s professional help, then and still now, I don’t believe that the changes would have turned out as good as they did. (Tom also requested the WTA to assist the WDNR when CWD was discovered west of Madison)
We then got in contact with Representative Scott Gunderson of Wind Lake, whom is on the Assembly’s Natural Resource’s Committee. (we also worked along with Representative Scott Gunderson when we were asked to assist the WDNR when CWD was found west of Madison.} Mike Bruin, Scott’s assistant in Madison, was a very helpful in getting the s.s. passed and most of our communication’s were done through Mike. Except for the meetings we had, the majority of communications was done via e-mail. Brian and I started out by meeting in Madison with Tom Solin and Scott Gunderson in October of 2001 to go over the WTA’s concerns about s.s.29.347(3). We then met in Madison on November 8, 2001 meeting with Tom Solin, Tom Van Haren and Mike Bruhn. At this meeting we discussed and reviewed the initial changes to s.s. 29.347(3). We found out at this time that the WDNR had already made a change to s.s. 29.347(3), before we had contacted them.This change was the including of the word “elk” in the statute, because of the possible future elk hunting seasons in Wisconsin. This would have meant that a taxidermist would have been able to mount deer and elk without needing a taxidermy permit. We then presented the initial changes to the members in Green Bay in February of 2002 and ask the members if they had any problems with the changes to let us know.
In February of 2002, the WDNR discovered CWD in Wisconsin. This became the priority issue for the WDNR and Tom Solin was one of the state personal put in charge of overseeing CWD.
The WTA was contacted in April of 2002 to assist the WDNR on the CWD issue. Our efforts to change s.s. 29.347(3) were temporarily put on hold, as we were extremely busy assisting the WDNR until November of 2002.
In December of 2002, we again began the process of changing s.s. 29.347(3) via e-mail. Brian and I met again with Tom Van Haren, Scott Gunderson and Mike Bruhn on January 15,2003 to go over the final draft of ss 29.347(3). The finishing touches were put into the changes, with everyone satisfied with the results.
The changing of 29.347(3) now became Assembly Bill 424. (AB 424) At this time we hired attorney Dave McCormack of Waukesha in January of 2003, ( Dave is a very avid hunter and a member of Safari Club International and SCI’s Wisconsin Chapter) to review the statute changes to make sure that they were beneficial to the WTA members and that there were no hidden agenda’s written in by the WDNR. Dave thoroughly checked it over and found the changes very well written and found nothing wrong with the changes. We again presented the changes to the members at the Green Bay meeting in February of 2003, so if anyone had problems with these changes, they could let us know. We were told at that time by Scott Gunderson, that the changes would probably go through the Legislative process fairly quickly as everyone was in agreement. What we didn’t know was the passing the yearly budget in Madison is such a long and drawn out process. Other issues were moved to the front and we were left waiting.
On June 27, 2003, AB 424 was finally brought up to the Assembly. A public hearing was then held on August 20, 2003 by the Assembly’s Natural Resource Committee. Brian and I were not able to attend this hearing, as we were notified the night before. We were assured that Scott Gunderson would be representing us at this committee hearing.
The actual vote for passing AB 424 to the Senate was on October 27, 2003, with a unanimous vote in favor by the committee. AB 424 was now passed onto to the Senate Natural Resource Committee. Senator Neil Kedzie of Elkorn, is the Chairman of the Senate Natural Resource Committee, whom we contacted to insure him that we were in favor of AB 424 and to assist in getting this bill passed.
On February 19, 2004, a Senate Public hearing was held. Dave Blank, Tom Van Haren, and I all testified in favor of AB 424 at the Senate Natural Resources Committee public hearing. We had heard that the committee might take a vote on AB 424 at the end of the hearings, so we decided to stay until the end. We waited two hours before AB 424 was discussed and then we waited another three hours for the hearings to end. There were no breaks during any of the different hearings. The wait was worth it as the committee did vote on AB 424 in favor of it unanimously.
We knew that the Senate was getting ready to end their legislative session very soon, so we contacted Senator Mary Panzer, who schedules the bills for a Senate Vote. We urged her to forward AB 424 as quickly as possible to have the Senate vote on AB 424 before they end their session.
On March 16, 2004, AB 424 was passed by the Senate and forwarded to Governor Doyle for his signature.
On April 15, 2004, AB 424 was SIGNED INTO LAW. Brian and I put in a lot of time into getting s.s. changed for the benefit of taxidermists here in Wisconsin and members of the WTA. The changes have also benefited the WDNR and hunters of Wisconsin. I will explain all the changes and interpretations in another article. Listed below, are the steps of going through the legislative process, so you can see it is not a simple step. History of Assembly Bill 424 ASSEMBLY BILL 424 LC Act Memo An Act to renumber and amend 29.347 (3); and to create 29.347 (3) (b) and 29.539 (7) of the statutes; relating to: control and possession of the head, antlers, or skin of a deer or an elk.
06-27. A. Introduced by Representatives Gunderson, Suder, Hahn, Hines, Krawczyk, Musser, Olsen, Ott, Owens and Petrowski; cosponsored by Senators Zien, Schultz, A. Lasee and Lassa.
06-27. A. Read first time and referred to committee on Natural Resources . 293
08-20. A. Public hearing held.
10-15. A. Executive action taken.
10-27. A. Report passage recommended by committee on Natural Resources, Ayes 10, Noes 0 .
10-27. A. Referred to committee on Rules 464
01-27. A. Placed on calendar 1-29-2004 by committee on Rules.
02-03. A. Read a second time. 666
02-03. A. Ordered to a third reading. 666
02-03. A. Rules suspended. 666
02-03. A. Read a third time and passed. 666
02-03. A. Ordered immediately messaged. 666
02-04. S. Received from Assembly. 597
02-04. S. Read first time and referred to committee on Environment and Natural Resources. 598
02-19. S. Public hearing held.
02-19. S. Executive action taken.
02-20. S. Report concurrence recommended by committee on Environment and Natural Resources, Ayes 5, Noes 0. 621
02-20. S. Available for scheduling.
03-10. S. Placed on calendar 3-11-2004 by committee on Senate Organization.
03-11. S. Placed on calendar 3-11-2004 by committee on Senate Organization.
03-11. S. Read a second time. 724
03-11. S. Ordered to a third reading. 724
03-11. S. Rules suspended. 724
03-11. S. Read a third time and concurred in. 724
03-11. S. Senator Kedzie added as a cosponsor. 725
03-16. S. Ordered immediately messaged. 729
03-16. A. Received from Senate concurred in. 895
03-18. A. Report correctly enrolled. 905
04-13. A. Presented to the Governor on 4-12-2004. 920
04-15. A. Report approved by the Governor on 4-13-2004. Wisconsin Act 247. 924
04-15. A. Published 4-27-2004. 925Continued....