Supporters say legislation would take ‘politics’ out of Fish and Wildlife
Massey claims political mismanagement from a series of administrations
FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – State Rep. Ed Massey of Hebron filed HB 395, a bill changing the composition of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources Commission, giving the state Agriculture Commissioner the authority to appoint four of nine members.
“As a lifelong hunter and sportsman, I am filing this legislation as an effort to protect the integrity of Kentucky’s natural resources,” Massey said. “Our sportsmen are dedicated to preserving, protecting, and enhancing the state’s fish and wildlife resources. Certain things are sacred to the citizens of the Commonwealth that need to be separate from political interference.”
They will be housed within the Tourism, Arts, and Heritage Cabinet, but not controlled by them. This will allow the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources to make their own hiring and procurement decisions.
The agency has been the center of a variety of claims and counter claims about financial mismanagement, patronage and other accusations during the years. Opponents say giving it more independence will only make the problem worse. But supporters say the agency has cleaned up its act.
Under proposed legislation, changes to wildlife districts to commission districts will be as follows:
Appointed by Governor-
- First District Counties: Ballard, Caldwell, Calloway, Carlisle, Christian, Crittenden, Fulton, Graves, Hickman, Livingston, Lyon, McCracken, Marshall, and Trigg counties.
- Fourth District Counties: Adair, Barren, Cumberland, Edmonson, Grayson, Green, Hardin, Hart, Larue, Marion, Metcalfe, Monroe, Nelson, Taylor, and Washington counties.
- Fifth District Counties: Boone, Bracken, Campbell, Carroll, Gallatin, Grant, Harrison, Henry, Kenton, Owen, Pendleton, Robertson, and Trimble counties.
- Sixth District Counties: Anderson, Boyle, Casey, Clark, Estill, Fayette, Franklin, Garrard, Jessamine, Lee, Lincoln, Madison, Mercer, Powell, Rockcastle, Scott, and Woodford counties.
- Seventh District Counties: Breathitt, Floyd, Johnson, Harlan, Knott, Lawrence, Leslie, Letcher, Magoffin, Martin, Owsley, Perry, and Pike counties.
Appointed by Commissioner of Agriculture-
- Second District Counties: Allen, Butler, Daviess, Hancock, Henderson, Hopkins, Logan, McLean, Muhlenberg, Ohio, Simpson, Todd, Union, Warren, and Webster counties.
- Third District Counties: Breckinridge, Bullitt, Jefferson, Meade, Oldham, Shelby, and Spencer counties.
- Eighth District Counties: Bath, Bourbon, Boyd, Carter, Elliott, Fleming, Greenup, Lewis, Mason, Menifee, Montgomery, Morgan, Nicholas, Rowan, and Wolfe counties
- Ninth District Counties: Bell, Clay, Clinton, Jackson, Knox, Laurel, McCreary, Pulaski, Russell, Wayne, and Whitley counties.
Under the bill, terms will end on December 31 of the fourth year. A current member will continue to serve until a successor is duly appointed by the Governor or Commissioner of Agriculture and confirmed by the Kentucky State Senate. The vacancy will be filled by the official that made the appointment. Members shall serve no more than two terms, although, if a member serves a partial term, it will not count against them.
Under HB 395, the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Resources Commissioner shall be the sole appointing authority for the department in regards to activities, functions, appointments, and employees.
Representative Dan Fister of Versailles signed on as the primary co-sponsor of HB 395. He was the five-term President of the Bluegrass Sportsman League of Wilmore, and served on the board of directors for 20 years. In addition, he served two terms as Director of the League of Kentucky Sportsman (LKS) and served numerous terms as President and Vice President of the 6th District Federation of the LKS. Fister knows firsthand how functional leadership within the commission will impact sportsmen throughout the state.
“Consistency of commission members with the same commissioner over a period of time is invaluable to the effectiveness of any agency,” Massey said. “I believe that this move is necessary for the Department of Fish and Wildlife to conduct business efficiently as they are working in direct concert with federal agencies.”