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Iowa House votes to nullify lead shot ban

This news story was published on February 3, 2012.
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James Q. Lynch, The Gazette, Cedar Rapids, Iowa –

The state Natural Resources Commission ban on lead shot was torpedoed by the Iowa House Thursday when it voted to nullify the rule 73-27.

The proposed change was sought by the Legislature’s Administrative Rules Review Committee, which concluded the commission over-stepped its authority and went beyond legislative intent by adopting a lead-shot ban in its rules governing the resumption of a 70-day dove-hunting season in Iowa last year for the first time since 1918. The commission voted in July to allow only so-called “non-toxic shot” to be used when hunting doves.

House Joint Resolution 2001 now goes to the Senate where Sen. Dick Dearden, D-Des Moines, chairman of the Natural Resources and Environment Committee, says there are enough votes to nullify the NRC rule. He’s characterized opposition to the resolution – and lead shot- as having more to do with opposition to dove-hunting than the ammunition.

Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, D-Council Bluffs, said he didn’t know when he would being the resolution to the floor.

Opponents of HJR 2001 cited scientific evidence that lead shot, which is favored by many hunters because it is cheaper and more effective than alternatives, is harmful to wildlife and humans.

Rep. Clel Baudler, R-Greenfield, pointed out there is scientific evidence to the contrary. He conceded that it is well-known that lead, if consumed in quantity over time, has health risks.

The issue for the Legislature, however, was whether the Natural Resources Commission had overstepped its authority and acted contrary to legislative intent, Baudler said.

Rep. Sharon Steckman, D-Mason City, said the NRC had done more due diligence before acting than the Legislature did before rushing to approve the dove-hunting bill last March.

The Senate passed the bill March 2. The House took up a raccoon hunting bill – that Steckman voted for in committee, but then substituted the Senate dove-hunting bill. It was approved 58-39. The governor signed it the next day.

The NRC, however, had a public hearing on its rules and accepted more than 850 written comments. The majority were from people opposed to the use of lead shot.

Steckman concurred with the commission’s conclusion that its decision was a “logical outgrowth of comment given.”

“We need to look at the thoughtfulness put into its decision by the NRC,” she said.

The House action follows a 9-1 decision by the Legislature’s Administrative Rules Review Committee in August to delay implementation of the rule.

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