The Minnesota Senate has passed a bill that would allow for the sale of hunting and fishing licenses during future state government shutdowns.
Lawmakers passed the measure, called the Freedom to Hunt and Fish Act of 2012, on Tuesday by a vote of 41-24. Sen. Paul Gazelka, R-Brainerd, said last summer's partial government shutdown cost the state about $2 million in revenue from the sale of fishing licenses. Gazelka said the state's tourism industry was hit even harder.
"I serve as state Senator in central Minnesota, in the Brainerd lakes area," he said. "I saw first hand how people were hurt by our unwillingness to allow them to buy a fishing license. This is a Minnesota right in my opinion."
Several DFL lawmakers spoke against the bill. They say the series of Republican-backed bills to eliminate the consequences of shutdowns will not make it any easier to avoid future budget stand-offs.
"The solution to the problem doesn't lie in preparing for a shutdown and by reducing the consequences of a shutdown. The solution lies in our getting our work done on time," said Sen. Kathy Sheran, DFL-Mankato, who was among the opponents who criticized the GOP approach. "That is what the public has asked us to do, not to prepare for a shutdown."