Saturday, March 12, 2011

Back to Outdoor Blogging, After the Other Half of My Political Identity Interfered for Awhile

Expect more signs like these with conservative power at the Minnesota legislature

I'm back to outdoor blogging, as the other half of my political identity - that of a trade unionist and union reformer - took over for awhile. There was an election for delegates to the International Teamsters Convention in my Teamsters Local 320, ballots were counted March 4th and I was part of a winning slate. What it took to win was not only good issues, such as reducing the top leadership's outrageous pay packages while the membership of public employees, like other workers in this economy, suffer pay freezes, furloughs, and benefit cuts -but a lot of hard work as well. It's been said that the winning side in politics usually has a bigger mouth than the other side, be it money for media or boots on the ground organization. Our side had the latter, which meant many people, including myself, spending a lot of time visiting worksites and calling people to get out the vote.

Of course, there's been the massive attack on collective bargaining in Wisconsin, so I've spent some time on that attending support events, and plan on being at another today.

However, I have managed to keep up on outdoor politics in Minnesota, and the picture with the conservative movement in charge isn't pretty. There are massive attacks on hunting and angling interests at the state legislature. The worst is probably HF 332, an egregious piece of anti-hunting legislation, which would mandate the DNR not increase acreage of publicly held land. Additionally, there are attacks on the funding recommendations for the use of lottery money, and the outdoor heritage fund, which is constitutionally mandated to fund wildlife habitat. The legislature is also refusing the DNR's proposed hunting and fishing license fee increases, even though the game and fish fund is getting depleted and the increases are supported by hunting and fishing organizations.

We had our problems with the Democrats in charge, but through our efforts and coalition-building we were able to fend off most of the attacks on our interests. However, the GOP victory has empowered voices within the Democratic party who are anti-public land, and thereby created a powerful alliance to attack hunting and angling interests. A powerful push-back is needed, as well the building of a long-term movement of progressive sportsmen and women to preserve our hunting and angling heritage and opportunities.

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