Monday, March 11, 2013

New York State Conservation Council 2013 meeting

New York State Conservation Council

March 2, 2013
The 2013 Legislative meeting of the NYSCC was called to order at 9:05am by President Charles Parker at the Herkimer County Community College. This was followed by the pledge of allegiance. A review of the days schedule was in order prior to jumping into the main order of business which was the review of pending New York State legislation. There were 40 members and 4 guests in attendance.
Bob Brown commented that he would like the group to address the License restructuring as a priority as this has a more immediate impact than the legislative bills we will be reviewing. The president recognized the request and would like to hold our discussion after we have seen a presentation from the DEC Region 6 Director who will be on the agenda today.

As we began to discuss the first bill, many wanted to hear what the Legislative committee comments on each bill had to offer before voting. Some comments had reportedly been sent to the council office but were not available at the time of our meeting. The Legislative Committee members that were present convened at the front of the auditorium and began offering a position on each of the bills as we went through them. Bills were presented for discussion and vote and if clarifications were required, portions of the bill text were read. At 10:50 the group took a 10 minute break.
Kevin Bruin who is the Assistant Council for the NY State Police provided a slide show on the provisions of the NYS SAFE Act. Kevin provided his background before working with the State Police and currently focuses on Complex Criminal support and weapon law cases. Kevin provided information that broke the new law into the major components which were;
· Assault weapons – New definitions which were molded after the Brady bill
· Large Capacity Magazines
· Ammunition sales
· Background checks on private sales
· Renewal of Firearms Licenses
· Statewide Database
The assembled group had many questions on all aspects of the new law and Kevin could only answer based upon what he reads in the current law. Questions on what qualifies as an assault weapon were flying fast and furious and it all starts with the basic question of “Is it a semi-automatic”, and “does it have a detachable magazine”. If those are yes answers and it has one of the distinguishing features stated in the new law it probably will be classified as an assault weapon.
To make it more interesting there will now be two classifications of “pre-ban”. Guns manufactured before 1960 are considered “curios” and need not be modified and are exempted by the new law but they do need to be registered. Both the gun and the magazine for these needs to be registered but not modified to the 7 round requirements. Interesting note; the M1 Garrand en-bloc clip is not considered a detachable magazine because of the manner in which it is loaded through the receiver. The M1 Carbine however does have a true detachable magazine which would require them to be registered. When we talk about modification of the old pre-ban period magazines (1960-1994) these need to be modified so as not readily changed in the field, and modifications should be considered “Gun-Smith” level modifications but need not be done by a gun-smith.
In regards to ammo, this “check” prior to purchase will be a state run system and not part of the NICS. Once ammo is purchased it can be given to other person to use but if “sold” would need to comply with the new regulations. Reloading components are not covered or restricted at this time.
More information can be found at
President Parker thanked Kevin and as he began introduction of Judy Drabicki the Region 6 DEC Director, a discussion ensued about the timeline of the new license restructuring plan. This has apparently been in the works for several months by CFAB and DEC and not originally intended to come up at this time. A request from personnel in the Governor’s circle asked for the details and wanted to put this on the fast track for inclusion to the governor’s budget bill. The intent was twofold, to simplify the process of purchasing a license with less confusion and secondly increase sales as a result. CFAB board voted to approve with the only abstaining vote by the Council. Howie Cushing felt that this action was premature, had not been vetted by the sportsman that are directly affected, and being rammed through for possible political gain.
We tabled the discussion and asked Judy Drabicki to speak on the topic. She said that this has been in the works for a while by direct request from the Governor when he had to go through the process of purchasing a fishing license. The three key changes would be that a fishing license would run one year from date of purchase, hunting license cycle would shift to September 1st, and many license types would be combined. It is part of the Budget Bill which has many facets to it and will most likely be passed. Questions were asked as to how the various old classifications could be tracked for data compiling, and it was not known the time. Asked if this was done to save costs and what those savings would be, and this was not known if there would be any “savings” but it was hoped that increased license sales would be a revenue generator.
Discussion ensued and while “restructuring” of the license system was the original intent, over time it evolved to “reduction” of the license system.
Bob Brown brought to light the point that part of the 2009 license fee increases, there were implied guarantees of services being kept the same and asked if there were any similar guarantees going forward with these changes. Most believed that this was another “feel good” legislation which was not asked for by the people who buy the licenses. We have fish hatcheries needing major repairs and the money is there buy won’t be released. This change which is part of the entire e-license project will cost us about $6.2 million from the conservation fund which could be put to better use in the field.
Dave Miller from the NYS Trappers Association took the floor and provided the trappers perspective of rolling the trapping license into the general hunting license. To his knowledge the organization was not contacted for their input to this proposed change. Trappers, who have a rich history in this country are losing their identity by being lumped into pile. Trappers did not ask for this and in general are more than willing to keep paying their way for maintaining their identity with a separate license. For years the trappers have supported other groups in their endeavors and ask for help now in maintaining their identity. Over the past 10 years there are over 10,000 trapping licenses sold and the regulations they have to follow show how dedicated they are to maintain their sport. Reduction of the non-resident license fees will now offer the opportunity for abuse from adjoining states. He points out that trapping is different than hunting yet the archery and muzzleloader identities remain intact within the general hunting structure. Dave asked for the Council’s support in maintaining the Trappers identity and not allow it to be included as part the new hunting license.
Bob Brown made a motion from the floor which was seconded by Eric Bratt, that the NYSCC go on record as opposing changes in the license fee proposal as written in the Governor’s Budget Bill. Discussion on the topic followed and some wondered if we should follow the CFAB lead and back the changes. Many felt that CFAB did not do us any favors by not doing any outreach and keeping this quite until the request from the Governor’s office. A hand vote was taken as a rough indication of the support and attendees were instructed to write in their vote at the end of the legislative bill list they would be handing in. It appeared to be fairly neutral with an even amount for and against the motion.
The floor was next taken by Assemblyman Marc Butler from the 118th Assembly District which includes Herkimer County and the Remington Arms factory. Marc voted to oppose the SAFE Act legislation not only for the content and infringement on the Second Amendment rights but also for the way it was pushed through under the cloak of “Message of necessity”. Most legislation follows a “Glacial” pace and goes through due process which this bill did not. This was an upstate vs downstate vote and as we have seen, is technically horrible. Some changes will come through in the form of the budget bill but complete repeal would almost impossible given the demographic makeup of the legislature. There are all kinds of questions not related to the firearms but on limits of liability for the mental health providers. We have seen 40 counties, the clerks associations and many others go on record as opposing this but the most effective thing we can do is wait for the legal process to shape. There is financial impact from this which will felt by gun owners and enforcement was never addressed. When writing to officials Marc said that all of the letters are viewed including the mass produced form letters but the handwritten letters get the most attention and review for content. We thanked Marc for his support of the sportsman and for attending today’s session.
With guest speakers on their way the group resumed the process of legislative bill review. Once this finished general discussion was on the floor and many wondered why the council had not generated a letter on their position in regards to the SAFE Act. While President Parker made note that we have statements on our web site and general policies for this in our policies and positions, we should also be cognizant of what else we need to get done and as this is a mainly a gun issue as opposed to a conservation issue we have let other organizations like the NYSRPA and SCOPE take the lead. Yes it directly affects us but we need not be a lead. It was agreed that after the meeting the Legislative Committee would meet with the President and draft a letter for publication on the Council’s position specifically on the SAFE ACT legislation.
Steve Owelko reported that all but 2 submitted resolutions were accepted and they have been notified and have time to resubmit prior to the Spring meeting. Structure of the resolutions could be better but are OK and should be out soon.
Upcoming dates;
· March 5th – Meeting with Deputy Secretary of the Environment
· March 8th – Meeting with DEC, CFAB, NYSCC on Access
· April 6th – Spring meeting at the Herkimer County Community College
· June 1st – Board of Directors Meeting
· September 20-22 – Fall Convention – Location to be announced
Fund Raising – The council needs to raise at least $14,000 above and beyond the normal dues and fees to remain in the black for the year. Thanks to Greene County for their generous support in helping fund the new computer system for the council office. The council also recently changed internet providers as well as phones to save money and increase reliability.
Meeting was adjourned at 3:38 PM
Respectfully submitted,
Eric Bratt
BPB note:

Eric Bratt is a past President of the NYS MuzzleLoaders Assn.

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