SALT LAKE CITY — Utah voters will decide if you have a constitutional right to hunt and fish.
Amendment E on the ballot would enshrine hunting and fishing in the state's constitution. But not everyone on Capitol Hill agrees that it's entirely necessary.
"Myself and many of my constituents are big hunters and anglers. It’s a big part of who we are in this state. Even more so in rural Utah," said Rep. Casey Snider, R-Paradise, who sponsored the bill that became Amendment E.
Rep. Snider acknowledges there are no threats to hunting and fishing in Utah right now, but said in other states it has been encroached. The "right to hunt and fish" has been also taken up by lawmakers in other states.
"It's a legacy here in this state, hunting and fishing. It’s something we want to see passed on to our children. Admittedly, I don’t see any direct threats to it right now, we passed it with taking that long view," he said.
Amendment E would not make the right absolute. Rep. Snider said state laws and policies would still prohibit, for example, a convicted poacher from getting a hunting license.
"The state still is in the management seat, but it also has a provision in there that says hunting and fishing will be the primary tool for managing wildlife of our state. In other parts of this country, the state has been the primary actor," he said.
But not everyone agrees that it should be in the Utah Constitution. Rep. Marsha Judkins, R-Provo, said she is a proud supporter of hunting and fishing in Utah, but questioned why it needs to be a constitutional "right."
"I know it’s a vital part of our state’s tradition. I know it’s a vital part of our state’s economy and it’s a vital part of so many individuals and families lives, and putting food on the table and experiencing the fun of this. But it is already protected under statute," she said.
Rep. Judkins said she believed the message being sent by Amendment E is unnecessary in Utah.
"It’s protected under statute. If there is a threat, yes, let’s revisit this," she said. "But for right now? Let’s take the changes to our constitution one at a time and be really sure about the things we want to put in the constitution.