ST. PAUL — Minnesota hunters will have more fashion choices and still be able to use lead ammunition on many public lands if two bills approved Wednesday by the House become law.
Lawmakers backed blaze pink as an alternative to the blaze orange safety color hunters now wear. They also voted to stop the state Department of Natural Resources from banning the use of lead ammo in select wildlife management areas.
The GOP-controlled House already voted on both measures Monday night as part of broader legislation related to fish and game. But with the companion bill in the Democratic-led Senate possibly stalled, the House voted to pass the two measures as independent bills.
Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party members used the legislative redundancy to slam Republicans, with Minority Leader Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, calling it embarrassing.
“You can’t get anything done that actually means something to the people of Minnesota,” Thissen said before being cut off.
State Rep. Tom Hackbarth, R-Cedar, who is chief sponsor of both the hunting-related bills, said he may update his fish and game legislation that passed Monday, meaning lawmakers might see the two issues yet again before the session ends.
Allowing pink hunting garb could make it harder for deer to see hunters stalking them, Hackbarth explained before Monday’s vote. Blaze pink is now allowed as a safety color in Wisconsin, where it was also suggested it might attract more women to hunting, an argument that upset female hunters.
Some DFL lawmakers suggested blaze pink could be unsafe because some of the roughly 8 percent of the male population that is color-blind can’t see it. Blaze orange is also difficult for some color-blind people to see.
Fewer than 1 percent of women are colorblind, according to the National Eye Institute.
Hackbarth said the lead ammo bill would stop an overreach by the Department of Natural Resources. The DNR planned to use its rulemaking authority to ban hunters from using lead ammunition in certain wildlife management areas because of its possible toxicity.
“I just think that’s wrong,” Hackbarth said.
Both bills have companion measures in the Senate, and Majority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, is a co-sponsor of a bill to stop the lead ammo ban.
The Pioneer Press is a Forum News Service media partner.