INDIANAPOLIS | A proposed state constitutional amendment guaranteeing the right to hunt, fish and farm is one step closer to being submitted to Hoosier voters for ratification.
The Republican-controlled Senate voted 38-10 Monday to approve the amendment, which declares hunting, fishing and farming are "forever preserved for the public good," subject only to laws and rules prescribed by the General Assembly.
State Sen. Brent Steele, R-Bedford, the sponsor, said Indiana must enshrine those rights in its constitution because pro-animal groups are using their "tentacles" to prohibit all three practices.
A skeptical state Sen. Karen Tallian, D-Ogden Dunes, and state Sen. Greg Taylor, D-Indianapolis, both questioned Steele as to whether the issue rises to the level of requiring a change to the state's fundamental governing document.
"I just wonder why we're doing these things. There isn't one state in the country that has made it illegal to hunt and fish," Taylor said.
But Steele said there's a history of governments barring hunting.
"The King of England denied hunting to the people of England, and when they came to our country, our forefathers, they wanted to guarantee that this could never happen again," Steele said.
He said 17 states have similar hunting and fishing rights listed in their constitutions. Indiana would join North Dakota in also guaranteeing a constitutional right to farm.
All 10 "no" votes were from Democrats, including five senators representing Northwest Indiana: LaPorte's Jim Arnold, Hammond's Frank Mrvan, East Chicago's Lonnie Randolph, Gary's Earline Rogers and Tallian.
The proposed amendment was previously approved by the General Assembly in 2011. If approved again by the House this year the amendment will be on the general election ballot for ratification by voters in November 2014.