Op-Ed: Sportsmen Urged To Support Petro/Padgett
By Larry S. Moore
Ohioans have two strong choices in the Republican primary with Ken Blackwell and Jim Petro. Choosing amongst friends is sometimes difficult. A closer examination of voting records and key facts easily tilts the scales to the Petro Campaign. As Ohio Attorney General, Petro has a solid track record of implementing Ohio’s concealed carry law. His office has issued favorable rulings and filed court briefings supporting concealed carry.
Senator Joy Padgett, who is Mr. Petro's Lt. Governor running mate, has a very solid record on sportsmen issues. I've known Joy Padgett since the early 1990s when she was first elected as a State Representative. She is currently leading the efforts in the Ohio Senate to pass needed concealed carry reform. She played a key role helping sportsmen to protect our license money in the wildlife fund. Joy Padgett is a strong advocate for sportsmen and conservation in Ohio.
Much of Mr. Blackwell's campaign has focused on the Tax Expenditure Limitation (TEL) proposal. The TEL is a proposal to limit the growth of state government. The concept of reduced taxes is certainly appealing and, in theory, the plan has gotten a lot of attention. But the devil lies in the details. And in the case of the TEL the devil may be very ugly.
The TEL is loosely based on a similar plan from Colorado. However, the Blackwell TEL proposal is much broader in scope and contains provisions that have not been tested in any other state. Specifically the TEL poses a significant threat to the local government funding in Ohio. County and township administrators are increasingly alarmed by provisions of the TEL.
The area I am most familiar with is the threat to the Ohio Wildlife Fund. The Ohio Wildlife Fund is an account that contains the money from the sale of hunting, fishing and trapping licenses plus other permits, such as deer and turkey permits. The Blackwell TEL will cap how much money can be spent from these funds. The TEL will also eliminate any carry-over monies in the fund. The TEL views carry-over money as excess government funding and will be moved into the Ohio General Revenue Fund (GRF). Wildlife Fund monies did not come from the GRF but rather come directly from the sportsmen and women of Ohio.
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The Division of Wildlife (DOW) is almost totally funded from the Wildlife Fund. One use is the purchase of available land for public recreation and the protection of critical habitat. This benefits all wildlife species and all Ohioans. Restrictions on how the money is spent will prevent the DOW from being able to move quickly when blocks of land become available. Elimination of the carry over funds will rob the DOW of the reserve funds for larger capital expenditures. Colorado has experienced significant problems with funding for environmental protection and their state parks. The Blackwell TEL would go further than the Colorado plan by imposing caps on spending. This will mean that major purchases, such as land or fleet upgrades, will require special voter approvals.
I spoke with State Representative Tom Raga (R-Warren County), who is Blackwell's running mate. Mr. Raga noted that the General Assembly would fix that flaw in the plan and make the necessary provisions to protect the Wildlife Fund. Mr. Raga is certainly aware of the attention this issue has among sportsmen. Can we bet on the future make-up of the General Assembly to protect our dollars? If the General Assembly can simply move the fund under a new name then is the TEL nothing but another fancy political shell game? What is the purpose of the TEL, other than to elect Mr. Blackwell, if it can be so easily avoided by the General Assembly? The TEL is simply the latest attempt to siphon my money from the intended sources to fund other areas of state government.
I am not interested in more trips to the Statehouse to protect my license money. I want to elect candidates with a plan for Ohio that includes the protection and wise use of my money. Voting for Joy Padgett is voting for one of our own. She grew up with firearms and a hunting heritage. If you are a gun-owner and sportsman who wants a team with a demonstrated track record of protecting our rights and our money, the clear choice is Jim Petro and Joy Padgett.
Outdoor writer and hunter education instructor Larry S. Moore is a long-time volunteer leader for Buckeye Firearms Association and winner of the 2005 USSA Patriot Award.
Ohio Legislators have made tremendous strides this year to protect
hunter and sportsmen dollars. Please visit the links below for a recap.