Nebraska State Senator Steve Erdman (R-District 47) has a bone to pick with the Game and Parks Department and has stated his support for defunding it until the department meets his standards of management. Worse, when numerous concerned hunters and anglers contacted him, they were met with mockery and contempt.
“Senator Erdman is so upset that he personally can’t catch a fish that he’s threatening to deprive the state of millions of dollars of crucial conservation funding,” said Todd Adkins, vice president of government affairs for the Sportsmen’s Alliance. “What’s really shocking, however, is Senator Erdman’s unbelievable disdain for concerned sportsmen and women when they contacted him about the issue.”
After the Sportsmen’s Alliance alerted members about Legislative Bill 1413, a bill to transfer monies out of the game fund, we began to receive reports of incredibly mocking and dismissive responses from Senator Erdman’s office.
One response read: “I will take every dime I can from Game and Parks because it is the poorest managed agency of our state. These emails mean absolutely nothing to a State Senator …”
Not only did Erdman repeatedly threaten to defund the Game and Parks Department in email responses and committee meetings, but he also dismissed anyone from out of state who contacted his office: “Are you confused about where you live? How can you be a constituent of Nebraska if you live out-of-state? Nice try.”
“Senator Erdman might do well to understand just how many hundreds of millions of dollars hunters and anglers contribute to Nebraska’s economy, and that non-residents are a huge source of that economic impact,” said Adkins. “This level of contempt for constituents and citizens, regardless of where they live, by a sitting senator is mindboggling.”
LB 1413 would decimate conservation funding for all Nebraskans by diverting $7 million from the Game Fund to the General Fund, and Section 31 transfers $2.5 million from the Nebraska Habitat Fund to the General Fund. The Game Fund is where hunting and trapping license fees and related dollars go, while the Habitat Fund is where sales of habitat stamps go, supports the purchase and management of habitat areas in Nebraska for the benefit of all citizens and wildlife. This diversion of funds could call into question future federal funding through Pittman-Robertson and Dingell-Johnson acts, which for Nebraska exceeded $20 million in 2023, while also opening the state to penalties for previously appropriated funds.
The governor has indicated support for removal of the diversion language from the bill, and all sportsmen can applaud that strong message, which is also supported by conservation organizations in Nebraska and throughout the nation.
The Appropriations Committee is currently taking into consideration the Governor’s recommendation to remove Sections 30 and 31, along with other state agency concerns, before they vote on the version of the bill, they will send to the Senate floor.
About the Sportsmen’s Alliance: The Sportsmen’s Alliance protects and defends America’s wildlife conservation programs and the pursuits – hunting, fishing and trapping – that generate the money to pay for them. Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation is responsible for public education, legal defense and research. Its mission is accomplished through several distinct programs coordinated to provide the most complete defense capability possible. Stay connected to Sportsmen’s Alliance: Online, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.