Hunting for a Balance – What Assembly Bill 78 Means to Nevada

female hunter

By Rayna Charnley, @raynacharnley

Whether backpacking deep in the wilderness of the Sierra Nevada or just exploring my own backyard, I have always felt a special connection with the great outdoors.

My love of nature has brought me to many unexpected places, but the most surprising and memorable experiences have occurred while hunting. Growing up I had access and insight into very different ideologies about living alongside nature.

Although both my parents are avid outdoorsmen, they both see mankind’s relationship with the natural world very differently. My father is a hunter and fisherman, while my mother is a dedicated environmentalist and activist. It wasn’t until my early college years studying forestry that I realized how closely tied the viewpoints of my parents are.

The goals, ideologies and passions of hunters and environmentalist are essentially the same—both routing for a healthy and balanced ecosystem. Much like environmentalists, hunters aim at sustaining, regulating and protecting the vulnerable land and animals from people. When I too became a hunter, I began to understand the meaningful role (legal) hunters carry out by maintaining healthy wildlife populations.

Seventy-five percent of federal and state funding responsible for the management of our country’s wildlife is done with the sale of licenses, permits, wildlife stamps, and with a special tax on select hunting products.

The Nevada Department of Wildlife works hard to regulate hunting and fishing in order to protect the environment and the animals.

For example, the state of Nevada offers a prestigious hunting tag called the Heritage Tags. These hunting tags have no set price and are only available to the highest bidder and offer a unique opportunity to hunt anywhere in the state, with any legal weapon throughout the season.

Hunters with the means to bid have raised an impressive $5 million since the program began in 1998. Funds collected from Heritage Tags are used for the “protection, propagation, restoration, transplanting, introduction, and management” of that particular species of bird, fish or mammal or their habitat (Nevada Dept. of Wildlife).

During Nevada’s 78th Legislature, I will be following Assembly Bill 78 which concerns making changes to Elk tags and other large mammal tags. I am eager to learn more about the bill and how stakeholders feel about the proposed changes. I hope to better understand why AB78 is being proposed as well as other important factors, such as drought, disease and herd numbers.

To read the full text of the bill, click here. 

Finding My Purpose – My Path to SB77

high school hallway

CREDIT: theimagegroup via Flickr

By David Thompson, @DJakaDT 

What am I doing here?

That was my first reaction to enrolling in a class set to cover the Nevada Legislature. I’m a sports guy through and through. I’ve had a professor tell me sports and law are essentially the same thing because it’s all politics, but I took it in passing.

What could be duller than listening to lawmakers talk for hours upon end about things we rarely see a change in? But I came in with an open mind, and a month later I’m so glad I did.

It took about a week into the course to know exactly what I was doing.

I’ve come to the conclusion that I am doing my journalistic duty to provide the common person with information about proposed bills that may affect their lives for better or for worse. I’m doing what I can to make a difference and be a progressive member of society.

Education is a subject I have always been interested in, but it wasn’t until taking this course did my interest stretch into passion.

Being raised in Nevada, a state consistently at the bottom of the education barrel, my first-hand experience of a not-so-great public education system has spanned 13 years. For over a decade I’ve seen the effect of budget cuts plague my classroom as supplies rapidly depleted and the school became more dependent on student contribution. For example, early on, if you brought in a ream of paper to class, you received extra credit. Now in certain schools, students are required to bring in a ream the first day of school.

My experience has driven me to follow Senate Bill 77. This bill will give more power to the Department of Education in deciding the fate of underperforming schools. It will allow it to close a school, turn it into a charter school, designate and reassign staff.

I spent quite some time trying to contact the sponsor of this bill and was instead forwarded to the DOE where I was informed that the language of this bill is subject to change with the introduction of an “Achievement District” bill, which is still being drafted. Read about it here in the document forwarded to me by a member of the DOE:

DOE Underperforming Schools Nevada

I am excited to continue my research and get back out to you as the bill progresses.