Panel kills Sunday hunting bill

RICHMOND – A House subcommittee has defeated a Senate-approved bill that would have permitted hunting on Sundays in Virginia.

A subcommittee of the House Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources Committee recommended Wednesday that Senate Bill 464 be tabled.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Ralph Northam, D-Norfolk, would have allowed hunting on Sundays on private property by the landowners, their immediate family or people who have written permission from the landowners.

At Wednesday’s meeting of the Natural Resources Subcommittee, Northam proposed an amendment to limit Sunday hunting to state or federal military bases and wildlife management areas.

Terrie Suit, Virginia’s secretary of veterans affairs and homeland security, was among the proponents of SB 464. She spoke in favor of the bill.

“Military installation representatives expressed informally that this would be beneficial to the military bases,” Suit said. “There is already shooting occurring on Sundays at these installations. This would just allow them to shoot at something that could perhaps benefit the dinner table.”

A hunter from Amelia County also supported the bill. He said he has two children who are at an age when they should learn to hunt. However, because of work and school schedules, the man said, it is difficult for him to be available to hunt on Saturdays.

Delegate Manoli Loupassi, R-Richmond, also spoke in favor of the measure.

“Hunting provides an opportunity for children to get outside and see that which they don’t normally see,” Loupassi said.

Opponents of SB 464 gathered at the subcommittee hearing to speak out against the legislation.

“Sunday hunting has been promoted as a property rights issue, a hunting issue and a gun rights issue,” said Will Shaw, a Louisa County resident and member of the National Rifle Association. “I submit that it’s really ‘a one-day-a-week peace and quiet’ issue.”

Shaw said Sunday should be a day for the community to share the outdoors and for residents to feel safe outside on their properties.

Current state law prohibits hunting on Sunday on public or private land, declaring it a “rest day for all species of wild bird and wild animal life, except raccoons, which may be hunted until 2:00 a.m. on Sunday mornings.”

In January, the Senate passed SB 464 on a 29-11 vote and sent it to the House for consideration.

Before the subcommittee voted, Northam addressed the panel.

“The tradition of hunting and hunters is going away,” he said. “It’s a tradition that I feel strongly about – that we as hunters and as outdoorsmen all need to work together to protect and promote.”

Delegate R. Lee Ware, R-Powhatan, chairs the subcommittee. First, he called for a vote on the amendment to limit Sunday hunting to military bases and wildlife management areas. That vote failed, 4-3. Then Ware called a vote on the overall bill. It also failed, 4-3.

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