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Passage of bill delayed

Bob Frye
| Sunday, Oct. 10, 2004

Efforts to legalize the use of leashed tracking dogs for finding wounded game in Pennsylvania will not succeed this year after all.

House Bill 1675, pushed by Deer Recovery of Pennsylvania, an organization of about 100 members across the state, was scheduled to be voted on by the House Game and Fisheries Committee Wednesday. Committee chairman Bruce Smith, a York County Republican, had said last week he expected the bill to pass, too.

Just minutes before the meeting was to start, however, the bill's prime sponsor, Erie County Democrat Rep. Tom Scrimenti, said he wanted to bill removed from consideration.

Scrimenti was not at the meeting, but Lackawanna County Democrat Rep. Ed Staback delivered the message on his behalf. Staback said Scrimenti wanted more time to discuss the bill with Pennsylvania Game Commission officials.

Commission officials -- who had opposed the use of leashed tracking dogs a year ago because of fears it would be a costly program to administer for just a few participants -- now support it.

Scrimenti, however, apparently wants to revisit the bill to determine what aspects of a tracking dog program should be set by law and which should be set by regulation, Staback said.

That decision to delay a vote on the bill drew criticism from Berks County Republican Rep. Sheila Miller, who said Scrimenti has had since June of 2003 -- when he first introduced his bill -- to get those kinds of details worked out. She offered to sponsor the legislation in cooperation with Erie County Republican Rep. Matthew Good.

"I think that we need to move this type of legislation," Miller said.

Smith declined to consider that idea. Already skeptical that the bill could have passed the House and Senate and made it to the Governor's office before the end of the session, Smith said he was inclined to honor Scrimenti's wish and let him reintroduce the bill when the next legislative session opens in January.

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