October 21, 2014

Natural Resources Committee unanimously passes sucker season bill

Bill to go before full House Dec. 4

Courtesy photo
A group of people from Omer meet with Rep. Joel Johnson during a trip to testify before the House Natural Resources Committee in Lansing Nov. 27. They were explaining their support to move the sucker season start date earlier in the year. Pictured from left are angler Mike McLavy, Omer Councilman Larry Daly, Johnson, and Mayor Alice Sproule.
Posted

LANSING — The effort in the Michigan legislature to change the start date for sucker season moved forward Tuesday after the House Natural Resources Committee unanimously approved the bill, known formally as H.B. 5883, Omer Councilman Larry Daly reported Nov. 28 at a city council meeting.

The Natural Resources Committee held a hearing Nov. 27 on the proposed bill, which would end the April 1 start date in favor of a floating one. Daly, Mayor Alice Sproule and local fisherman Mike McLavy went to the capitol to argue for changing the date to coincide with the earlier sucker runs in the Rifle River that have occurred eight out of the past 10 years.

Daly said there was no opposition after the meeting with the Natural Resources Committee, and committee members asked the three visitors questions about the suckers and the impact on the area before passing the bill.

If approved by the legislature, the Department of Natural Resource’s Natural Resources Commission would set the season start date annually based on weather conditions.

“If it passes (the Senate) it will be in the hands of the DNR to set the date,” Daly said.

In practice, Daly said it is unlikely to ever be set before March 15, the end of walleye season, since the DNR does not want net dipping in the Rifle River while those fish are still active. The April 1 start date currently in effect will be done away with entirely, however.

According to Ben Frederick, legislative aide to Rep. Joel Johnson (R-Clare) who introduced the bill, the bill will likely move from the full House Dec. 4 to the Senate. The legislature’s lame duck session ends Dec. 13, and Frederick said he hopes it gets through the committee there and through the full Senate.

“We are going to push hard to get this through the Senate by Dec. 13, but hope for a committee meeting and vote before that at some point over the next few weeks,” Frederick said.

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