MN-02 : Hunting, Fishing and Shortsighted Budget Cuts

Back in 2010, Steve Quist at MNDem wrote that “The outdoors is a part of Minnesota’s heritage. It is imperative that we protect it so we can pass it on to new generations of Minnesotans who will love it.”

Steve focused on his “representative”

Kline press photo
Minnesotans are nationally known for our love of the outdoors. I’ve heard stats about the per capita cabins, boats, fishing licenses, golfers, snowmobiles, and I’m sure you probably know one or two statistics also. Fishing opener and deer hunting opener are practically state holidays. The outdoors and natural resources have an important place in many of our lives.
So who is representing us when it comes to the outdoors and the environment? It isn’t John Kline.
The group Conservation Minnesota just released congressional ratings for 2009. In 13 votes during the 2009 legislative session John Kline had a 0% environmental support rating. In a reviewing John Kline’s overall environmental ratings, I learned that he has about a 20% approval rating when it comes to environmental issues over his time in Congress.

That was a few years ago, what about more current ratings ?
Well, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) has just honored members of Congress with the Friend of the National Parks Award for their contribution to protecting and enhancing America’s national parks. NPCA’s “Friend of the National Parks Award” was established in 1999 to track and publicize congressional members’ votes on significant park issues. This year, NPCA compiled votes for seven national park-related bills in the House. To receive the award, representatives had to vote correctly at least four out of seven times.

Four out of seven … not exactly a stringent standard … so how did John Kline rate ?

He got zero out of seven.

John Kline’s record :

House Amendment 162 to H.R. 1 (Roll Call 139) : Eliminate funding for development of the National Park System

H.R. 1022 (Roll Call 10) : Buffalo Soldiers in the National Parks Study Act

S. 1134 (Roll Call 93) : St. Croix River Crossing Project Authorization Act

H. R. 4089 (Roll Call 158) : Sportsman Heritage Act

H. R. 4089 (Roll Call 162) : Sportsman Heritage Act

H. R. 2578 (Roll Call 387) : Amend the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act

H. R. 5987 (Roll Call 591) : Establish the Manhattan Project National Historical Park

Overall, the award was be presented to 157 representatives currently serving in the 113th Congress. Members of the Minnesota delegation receiving the award includes Tim Walz (D-MN-01), Erik Paulsen (R-MN-03), Betty McCollum (D-MN-04) and Keith Ellison (D-MN-05).

OK … awards are based on past votes … but the real issue is how will John Kline vote on the funding for FY 2014 Interior and Environment Appropriations ?

The House Republican leadership plans to cut funding $5.5 billion below the fiscal year 2013 enacted level (-19%) — a cut of $4 billion below the current level caused by sequestration cuts. Their plan is to eliminate funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, state wildlife grants, and for new wildlife refuges and expansions of existing refuges.

As readers of Outdoor Life learned,

To be sure, there’s a chorus of folks out there that immediately sing in unison: “Cut the budget!” without even thinking through what these cuts mean to an industry that generates about $650 billion (that’s with a B, folks) per year.
The hunting and fishing industry has become a juggernaut in America. Sales grow each year, but the funny thing is, the industry is going to die without access to publicly held wildlife, lands, and waters. The industry has adopted a volume model, i.e., they need to sell product and produce more customers. But Congress has other plans.
The budget that gets voted on next week eliminates a core competency of the outdoor industry: public access to public lands. There are currently over 35 million acres of public lands that are inaccessible to hunters and anglers (hikers, birders, and bikers too). That’s 35 million acres where nobody has a reason to buy a new rifle, a dozen flies, or whatever.
Shortsighted cuts like the ones proposed by the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee cut the heart out of wildlife management practices that have been proven not only effective, but economically viable. Most of these programs have a return of investment much higher than any other government program. Why in the world would we cut programs that generate revenue—not only in terms of taxes but in terms of economic prosperity for rural communities?

Steve concluded his commentary by remind us :
The environment is so important to Minnesotans, that we took matters into our own hands after years of decline in the quality of environmental legislation and spending by passing the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment in November 2008. With nearly 80% voter turnout, it passed, so no one can deny that was a mandate for our legislative leaders to take the lead and be the stewards of our natural resources that we expect.
John Kline isn’t willing to be that leader.

Sad to say, but the Kline Agenda does not seem to include being a leader on what matters to a lot of Minnesotans.

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