Tennessee Hunting Rights Amendment (2010)

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Tennessee Hunting Rights Amendment was on the November 2, 2010 ballot in the state of Tennessee as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment where it was approved.

The proposed measure called for the personal right to hunt and fish within state laws and existing property rights. Additionally, the amendment allowed for hunting and fishing of non-threatened species. According to Senator Doug Jackson, he had been trying to place the measure on the ballot since the 1990s.[1]

Election results

See also: 2010 ballot measure election results

In order to be approved in November, the measure had to receive more "yes" votes than "no." Additionally, the "yes" votes must be a majority of votes cast in the gubernatorial election - 1,010,302. All the votes for candidates for governor were added together and divided by two - 505,151. Since the votes supersede that minimum requirement, the measure was considered approved and the Constitution was amended as stipulated by the measure.[2][3][4]

Tennessee Hunting Rights Amendment
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 1,255,840 87.38%
No181,46512.62%

Source: Tennessee Secretary of State

Text of measure

The ballot question read:[2]

Shall Article XI, Section 13 of the Constitution of the State of Tennessee be amended by adding the following sentences at the end of the section:

The citizens of this state shall have the personal right to hunt and fish, subject to reasonable regulations and restrictions prescribed by law. The recognition of this right does not abrogate any private or public property rights, nor does it limit the state's power to regulate commercial activity. Traditional manners and means may be used to take non-threatened species.
Yes __
No __

Fiscal Impact

According to state officials, the fiscal impact of the proposed amendment was a one-time increase of $20,000 in local expenditures in FY 2010-11. The cost covered a one-time publication cost for local governments in Fall 2010 for each county election commission to print the text of the amendment in a newspaper. Officials based the estimate on recent election publications.[5]

Constitutional changes

The legislation added a new provision to Article XI, Section 13 of the Tennessee Constitution. It read:[6]

The citizens of this state shall have the personal right to hunt and fish, subject to reasonable regulations and restrictions prescribed by law. The recognition of this right does not abrogate any private or public property rights, nor does it limit the state's power to regulate commercial activity. Traditional manners and means may be used to take non-threatened species.

Support

Supporters of the proposed measure argued that the measure would "prevent radical animal rights activists and an increasingly urban state legislature from one day shutting down the activities." In response to opponents who said that the measure was not necessary, supporters acknowledged that the measure may not be necessary but added that adding a constitutional amendment to the ballot was a difficult process. "If you wait until you need it, the reality of being able to get it done would be pretty difficult," said Mike Butler, head of the Tennessee Wildlife Federation.[7][8] It was also noted, that while there was not an immediate threat to the Tennessean hunting and fishing rights, the future was uncertain and having legislation enacted already would help rather than hinder future discussions.[9]

Tactics and strategies

Most legislators in the state supported this measure as well. The campaign in support of the measure collected an estimated $150,000 in campaign funds. The campaign used the money for TV ads and website campaigning. Those in support said they were trying to draw more attention the proposed amendment because often voters will skip over issues and just vote for candidates.[10]

Opposition

Opponents of the proposed measure argued that the measure was "frivolous" and "unnecessary." Some argued that the proposed measure could set a precedent for cluttering the Tennessee Constitution with political statements by special-interest groups. According to reports, an official of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) said, "If people have a right to hunt, why not a right to shop or golf?"[11]

Media editorial positions

See also: Endorsements of Tennessee ballot measures

Opposition

  • The Tennessean urged a "no" vote, saying, "A sim­ple res­o­lu­tion of the House and Sen­ate would have suf­ficed to send the mes­sage that hunt­ing and fish­ing is here to stay. Mak­ing this a mat­ter of such urgency as to amend the Ten­nessee Con­sti­tu­tion, which typ­i­cally con­cerns itself with free­dom of reli­gion, the right to a fair trial and so on, tends to cheapen that foun­da­tional document."[12]
  • The Memphis Commercial-Appeal urged a "no" vote, saying, "Let's guarantee the right to play football. American football, of course. And tailgating before, during and after games. And trash talking. And celebrating wins in a brash, uninhibited manner. Let's protect impersonating Elvis. Ogling at the swimming pool. Singing in the shower. This list could go on, but there is work to do preserving rights that could show up in the sights of our increasingly urban legislature. Today hunting and fishing. Tomorrow pickup trucks."[13]

Other

  • The Knoxville News-Sentinel's editorial board was largely indifferent, saying, "The amendment clearly isn't necessary, but it also doesn't appear to contain anything objectionable."[14]

Path to the ballot

See also: Legislatively-referred constitutional amendments in Tennessee

The Tennessee General Assembly was required to approve the proposed amendment in two successive sessions. In the second such session, the proposed amendment was required to earn 2/3rds approval, however, in the first session, it only required majority approval.

On January 28, 2010 the Tennessee State Senate voted 31-0 in favor of placing the measure on the ballot.[15] On March 18, 2010 the House of Representatives voted 90-1 in favor of the measure; qualifying the measure for the November 2010 statewide ballot.[16]

See also

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References