Game commissioners come out in opposition to merger
HARRISBURG — It's official: The state legislature is once again going to explore the idea of merging the Pennsylvania Game and Fish and Boat commissions.
But game commissioners don't like it, as they made clear at their work group meeting in Harrisburg on Monday.
The state House of Representatives, by a 197-0 vote, last week voted to adopt House Resolution 129. Sponsored by Potter County Republican Martin Causer, the chairman of the House Game and Fisheries Committee, it directs the legislative budget and finance committee to “investigate the financial feasibility, impact, costs and savings potential of eliminating duplicated duties and services by combining the Pennsylvania Game Commission and the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission to create a new independent agency responsible for managing the fish and wildlife resources of this Commonwealth.”
Pennsylvania is the only state with separate fish and wildlife agencies.
Game commissioners Monday, though, said they want to remain independent and adopted a resolution of their own, “reaffirming” their commitment to the idea.
It wasn't easy. Board members wrangled for the better part of an hour over the exact wording of the resolution and over to whom to send it.
Executive director Carl Roe suggested sending it to the General Assembly at large and to Gov. Tom Corbett's administration since all would be involved in “the final process of any merger.”
The board ultimately decided to send its resolution first to the chairman of the House and Senate game and fisheries committees. Things will take of themselves form there, some said.
“I think the word will get out. The point is, we're opposed to it,” said commissioner Ron Weaner of Adams County.
Pennsylvania Fish and Boat commissioners adopted a similar anti-merger resolution of their own in April.
Pennsylvania Game Commissioners on Monday adopted a second resolution, this one in opposition to bills proposed in the state House and Senate changing the terms of board members.
Right now, game commissioners are nominated by the governor and approved by the legislature. They serve one eight-year, unpaid term. When the term ends, they can serve for an additional six months or until a successor is named.
Some lawmakers want to appoint commissioners to one four-year term with the possibility of a second afterward. That's to make the board more responsive to lawmakers and sportsmen, they've said.
Critics have suggested lawmakers want to make commissioners more compliant to their demands, however.