Woodland stream.

Assembly Bill 2609 May Not Fix the Fish & Game Commission

Among the many bills that became law in California on January 1, 2013 is AB 2609, authored by Assemblymember Ben Hueso. AB 2609 was a direct response to Commissioner Dan Richards' refusal to voluntarily resign from the California Fish and Game Commission.

Many Californians called for Richards' resignation after he killed a mountain lion in Idaho in 2012 and received a warning from California's ethics agency, the Fair Political Practices Commission, which said that Richards broke the law by accepting the hunting trip as a gift.

AB 2609 changes the Fish and Game Code by setting out new procedures by which the California Fish and Game Commission selects its officers as well as recommending some basic qualifications for appointment.

Photo of Jim Kellogg reading agenda at December 2012 Commission meeting.Unfortunately, AB 2609 came too late to prevent the reappointment of long-time commissioner Jim Kellogg. As commission president, Kellogg repeatedly failed to file the annual report on cougar depredation required by law under Proposition 117. Kellogg was reappointed to the Commission by Governor Jerry Brown in April 2012 for another 6 year term, and is scheduled for confirmation hearings before the legislature on January 9, 2013.

View the Action Alert to Oppose the Confirmation of Jim Kellogg to the Commission.

In addition to the changes to the election of commission president and vice-president, the new law attempts to address some of the ethical issues which have plagued the commission for decades, making it a poor steward of California's wildlife.

California's Legislative Counsel describes the additions to the Fish and Game Code as requiring "the commission to adopt a code of conduct that requires a commissioner to adhere to prescribed principles and, by July 1, 2013, to adopt rules to govern the business practices and processes of the commission" and encourages "the Governor and the Senate Committee on Rules to consider certain minimum qualifications in selecting, appointing, and confirming commissioners to serve on the commission."

Unfortunately, the new law only requires that minimum qualifications be considered, not that the specific qualifications be met. The minimum qualifications laid out in the new law ask for very little, and still emphasize recreation and management without even mentioning protection and conservation.



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