The Alaska State Senate unanimously passes its first bill of the current legislative session Wednesday, sponsored by state Sen. Jesse Kiehl, D-Juneau, lower left. The bill makes disabled military veterans residing in Alaska eligible for free trapping licenses in addition to hunting and fishing, and makes free service-related licenses for all three activities permanent instead of annual. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

The Alaska State Senate unanimously passes its first bill of the current legislative session Wednesday, sponsored by state Sen. Jesse Kiehl, D-Juneau, lower left. The bill makes disabled military veterans residing in Alaska eligible for free trapping licenses in addition to hunting and fishing, and makes free service-related licenses for all three activities permanent instead of annual. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Senate quickly falls for veterans’ traps

Juneau lawmaker’s bill giving disabled vets lifetime trapping licenses is first to pass floor vote.

A bill by a Juneau lawmaker adding trapping to the free hunting and fishing licenses available to disabled military veterans, as well as for current National Guard and reserves members, was the first legislation to pass the Alaska State Senate on Wednesday, the 30th day of the legislative session.

Senate Bill 10 essentially corrects an inconsistency in state law that gives Alaska residents 60 years and older a free hunting/fishing/trapping license, said state Sen. Jesse Kiehl, a Juneau Democrat, during the floor session just before the vote unanimously approving the bill.

State Sen. Jesse Kiehl, D-Juneau, talks with fellow senators Löki Tobin, D-Anchorage, James Kaufman, R-Anchorage, and Mike Shower, R-Wasilla, before Wednesday’s floor session where a bill introduced by Kiehl was the first to pass the upper chamber this session. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

State Sen. Jesse Kiehl, D-Juneau, talks with fellow senators Löki Tobin, D-Anchorage, James Kaufman, R-Anchorage, and Mike Shower, R-Wasilla, before Wednesday’s floor session where a bill introduced by Kiehl was the first to pass the upper chamber this session. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

“An Alaska resident, however, who is a service-disabled veteran gets a lifetime hunting and fishing card, which for reasons I’ve never been able to figure out despite extensive research excludes trapping,” he said. “Senate Bill 10 fixes that.”

An additional provision adding trapping to the free hunting/fishing licenses available annually to active duty National Guard and reserves members was based on input from state Fish and Game officials, Kiehl said.

Befitting its first-passed status, SB10 has no declared legislative or public opposition, affects relatively few people and according to the bill’s two fiscal notes costs the state nothing. Kiehl said after the floor session he expects the House to act quickly as well since a companion bill there has minimal committee referrals.

Numerous veterans groups offered in-person and written testimony supporting the bill during its brief committee process in the Senate.

“This bill would provide many of us the chance to be outside and engaging in an activity that requires thought and concentration, thus allowing us to focus on constructive healing,” Troy D. Eck, Alaska state commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, stated in a letter to lawmakers. “The results of legislation such as this will produce results that may not be immediately evident such as youth education, predator control, and possible economic benefit.”

“When veterans feel positive about themselves they become independent. With this independence comes strength and the desire to help others. That assistance to the community encompasses not only other veterans, but also the local communities in which these veterans reside.”

• Contact Mark Sabbatini at mark.sabbatini@juneauempire.com

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