As is often the case after an election year and a turnover in many statewide offices and legislative districts, the 2020 session in Jackson probably won’t see many high-profile outdoor issues addressed.
As of mid-January, not a single bill had been assigned to either the House or Senate Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks Committees.
In the House, Rep. Scott Bounds (R-Philadelphia) returns as the chairman, beginning his 17th year in the House. In the Senate, Delbert Hosemann, the new lieutenant governor, turned the chairmanship over to Neil Whaley (R-Potts Camp), who is entering the third year of his first term in the Senate.
Mandatory reporting for deer
One issue that could come up is a mandatory harvest reporting system for deer. The legislature approved mandatory reporting for turkey hunting before the 2019 spring season, but it left deer reporting on a voluntary basis. Called Game Check, the system allows hunters to do online reporting, including by cell phone app, as well as a toll-free phone call.
“This is not so much a law-enforcement tool, although it could be used as such, I guess, as it is a game-management tool,” said Bill Johnson of Brandon. “I’m all in favor of better game management, especially in this era of (chronic wasting disease), and the need for a more regionalized approach to managing our wildlife instead of a statewide approach based totally on non-scientific surveys.
“I do wish that we could make it more about enforcement though, because we all know there are game hogs out there among us who exceed the limit without any fear of repercussion. But I doubt seriously we’ll ever see a mandatory tagging system that makes you put a physical tag on the animal before it is ever moved. I do that with turkeys I hunt in Texas, and I’ve done it when deer and elk hunting out West. I don’t see it as a big deal.”
Bills can be tracked easily online during the legislative session. Just visit bill status page of the legislative website at http://www.legislature.ms.gov/legislation.