Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Idaho voters could change Constitution

2 amendments on Tuesday’s ballot

Express Staff Writer

Idahoans will be asked to vote on two proposed constitutional amendments on Tuesday, one regarding the role of the State Board of Correction and the other regarding the rights to hunt, trap and fish.

The first, SJR 102, proposes adding the word “felony” to Section 5, Article X of the part of the Idaho Constitution that governs the role of the State Board of Correction. The existing section of the Constitution states that the board has the “control, direction and management of adult probation and parole.”

The proposed amendment adds the word “felony” before the word “probation,” in order to clarify that the board only deals with felony offenders. Misdemeanor offenders would continue to be supervised by counties in Idaho.

According to a pamphlet released by the Secretary of State’s Office, supporters of the amendment say that the change will add clarity to the Constitution and preserve local control of misdemeanor offenders. 

Opponents believe that changes to the Constitution should only be made for major issues of state interest, and that this change does not address the possible inconsistencies in misdemeanor probation treatment among judicial districts.

In this amendment, a vote of “yes” favors amending the constitution and including the word; a vote of “no” would leave the Constitution as written.

The second issue is perhaps more contentious—or at least, has been more visible. The amendment, known as HJR2aa, would add a new section to the Idaho Constitution that would guarantee Idahoans the right to hunt, fish and trap.

The amendment does not prevent any hunting, fishing or trapping licenses from being suspended or revoked, but it would set in stone the idea that wildlife harvest would be the preferred form of wildlife management for the state.

According to the Secretary of State’s Office, supporters believe the amendment would preserve “Idaho’s great sporting heritage,” and that bans on certain types of hunting and trapping have been successful in other states.

Opponents maintain that the amendment is unnecessary because the rights to hunt, fish and trap are not threatened in Idaho and are protected by law, and that Idaho Department of Fish and Game could have wildlife management decisions constitutionally challenged.

A vote of “yes” favors changing the constitution; a vote of “no” favors leaving the constitution as written.

Kate Wutz:

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