State Budget Targets Bow-Hunting Laws in Towns, Cities

June 15, 2015

No communities would be able to prohibit bow hunting in their jurisdictions under a plan inserted in the proposed 2015-17 state budget by Republicans who control the legislature.

The non-spending measure was inserted recently during Joint Finance Committee work on Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed 2015-17 state budget. The full legislature is expected to consider the budget later this month before it goes back to Walker for final approval.

Current state law enacted in 2013 prohibited communities from restricting or enforcing new bow- and crossbow hunting rules in their boundaries. The budget proposal would apply to Stevens Point, Antigo, Crandon, Tomahawk, and other communities that had bow-hunting laws on their books before the 2013 state law was enacted.

Special interest groups that lobby lawmakers are not required to identify specific proposals they support or oppose in the proposed state budget. However, the 2013 law that prohibited additional communities from enacting new bow-hunting laws was supported by hunting groups and the National Rifle Association (NRA), the nation’s most influential gun advocacy group.

Pro-gun and hunting groups, which have not registered lobbying efforts on the proposed budget, contributed about $22,600 between January 2011 and December 2014 to Republican legislators, including about $5,000 to Joint Finance Committee members. Most of the campaign cash, nearly $21,000, came from the NRA’s state political action committee (PAC).

Top recipients of NRA campaign contributions between January 2011 and December 2014 were all Republicans, and included: Sen. Luther Olsen, of Ripon, $1,500; and Sens. Alberta Darling, of River Hills, Sen. Sheila Harsdorf, of River Falls, Sen. Jerry Petrowski, of Marathon, and Rep. Ed Brooks, of Reedsburg, who received $1,000 each.

Darling is co-chair of the Joint Finance Committee, and Olsen and Harsdorf are committee members.

In addition to direct contributions, the NRA’s PAC and corporation spent about $58,000 between January 2011 and December 2014 on outside electioneering activities, like broadcast ads, mailings and robocalls, to support Republican legislative candidates. The top recipient of outside electioneering help from the NRA was Harsdorf at $6,231.