November 26, 2014

State rep reports progress on new sucker season date

Talks prescription drug redistribution bill

By Kevin Bunch
Staff Writer | news@arenacindependent.com

Posted

OMER — The state legislature would likely not take up a new date for sucker fishing season until after the election, State Rep. Joel Johnson told the Omer City Council during its meeting Sept. 25.

Johnson said the bill, which would amend sucker season to start earlier in the year to account for the earlier runs the fish make, has been turned into the Natural Resources Committee, but no hearing date has been set yet.

“We want to get it done after the election so we can get it into the (Department of Natural Resources) hunting guide for 2013,” Johnson said. “I hoped for a set date, but the DNR still wants to lean flexible for now so they can tweak it without having to deal with a law set in stone.”

Under the current form of the bill, the DNR would decide the start date on a yearly basis, which would allow them to adjust it based on when they believe the sucker run would occur, Johnson said. That way, if the run shifts again, it would be easier to adjust so the season still catches it.

Councilman Larry Daly said he would prefer a set date so people who want to come to the city for the annual sucker run would know what time frame to take off of work. If the DNR goes with a flexible date, Daly said they would need to announce it far enough in advance for people to do so.

“We get about 1,000 people who come up and camp for two weeks so a set date would be nice,” Daly said. “But anything would be better than what we have now, as we’ve missed the sucker run for 10 of the past 12 years.”

Daly said he would be willing to testify before the committee in favor of the season date change when it begins holding hearings.

Local anglers have been trying to change the date of sucker season to accommodate for shifting weather patterns. The sucker run up the Rifle River occurs once the ice has melted in the spring, but if the ice melts too early, anglers will be unable to go sucker dipping — using a net to catch suckers as they go through the river system — until after the fish have left.

Johnson’s aide Ben Frederick told the Independent in June the legislature has adjusted a number of specialty hunting and fishing seasons over the years, but it had not adjusted sucker season at that point.

Johnson also reported on a new bill winding its way through the legislature which would allow hospitals, nursing facilities, and other professionals to redistribute unused pharmaceuticals to those in need.

Under the current bill, drugs that are still sealed in bubble wrap and leftover from someone dying, moving, or no longer taking them due to an allergic reaction could go to low-income individuals, or those on Medicare or Medicaid, Johnson said.

It would also establish pharmacies as disposal points for unused pharmaceuticals, Johnson said, as ones held by private individuals cannot be redistributed.

The bill has passed the State House of Representatives and a State Senate committee, and now needs to go before the full Senate and Gov. Rick Snyder, Johnson said.

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