A LITTLE TASTE OF GOVERNMENT FOR THE PEOPLE
by c.Russell Wood
“Government of the people, by the people and for the people.” At times it seems we have moved a long way from that concept of government held by President Lincoln. Today It`s more like we have government of the government by the government and for the government. But once in a while we get a glimpse of what happens when a governmental agency realizes they “derive their just powers from the consent of the governed,” as stated in the Declaration of Independence
After the hue and cry raised by the citizens of Missouri when the Department of Conservation proposed new requirements for no cost hunting permits for landowners to hunt on their own land, the Department dropped most of their most egregious notions. But one bugaboo seemed to remain in place calling for “registration” and “legal description” of a hunters land if he wanted a no cost tag for deer or turkey.
They had said in a published statement attributed to MDC director John Hoskins, “The change envisioned . . .simply adds collection of the legal description of their land, i.e. township, section and range”. Their official website stated that hunters wanting to receive landowner deer and turkey permit privileges must first register their property with the Landowner Registry.
The Ozarks Property Rights Congress joined in the opposition and in a letter addressed to director Hoskins, which was published in newspapers around the state and broadcast widely on radio, stated in no uncertain terms that the MDC proposals were unacceptable to landowners and would be met with vigorous resistance.
When the announcement was made that the commission had reconsidered and was withdrawing their most contentious points, the part dealing with land registration remained but worded more softly. It was not clear what they had in mind but whatever it was it was still there.
` As president of the OPRC I contacted the MDC and ask for a clarification about the land registration. This resulted in a conversation with Dave Erickson, an assistant director who identified himself as the one in charge of making the regulations I questioned. He quickly denied that the MDC had any need or desire for the legal description of a permittee`s land. He said all they wanted was the section, township and range so they can verify an applicant`s claim of land ownership in a county. He said this was a procedure they had followed up until 2005 when they switched over to an electronic system.
As for the “Land Registry”, Erickson admitted that this idea and the term came from a system used in Iowa. He said he learned from the public in Missouri that this was an unwise choice of words and MDC has no intention of maintaining a land registry. I assured him that in the current atmosphere of people being tricked and coerced into premise registrations for the National Animal Identification System, landowners are especially protective of their property rights and suspicious of any suggestion that they register their property with any governmental agency. He said he`d never heard of NAIS and didn`t realize we were so sensitive to the issue, but as a result of the public comments he understands now. When asked if there would be a new name for the program, he emphatically stated there would be no such program.
I asked Mr. Erickson to put what he had told me in writing and send to me, which he did.
So that`s how things stand now. MDC dropped their proposal that required ownership of 80 acres instead of 5 to qualify for a no cost deer or turkey tag. They say they do not want a legal description of your land, just the county, township, range and section where it`s located and that there will be no Land Registry as they had touted before.
One side note to all this is that some pointed comments about the operation of the Conservation Department were made in the letter to director Hoskins.
*The proposed regulations were to raise more money, yet Missouri has one of the wealthiest departments in the nation.
*Missouri spends three times as much per capita as any other state on its wildlife department.
*The never ending 1/8 cent sales tax which goes unfettered to the department raises over $100 million each year contributing to a $150 million dollar annual budget
*MDC is the largest single landowner in the state and has 2,300 employees
*Director Hoskins with a tax paid salary of about $150,000 per year seems incapable of running his department within it’s means and goes back to the taxpayer trough for more.
None of these statements have been challenged or denied by the MDC. Not a peep.
We often think it is hopeless, and government agencies are just too big and powerful, and they are going to do what they are going to do.
Well, not always. This is another case where the public said Stop! Enough is Enough! and got results.
A little taste of government for the people instead of government for the government.
‘Course we better continue to sleep with one eye open.