A Mississippi Bill exempts hunting incident reports from disclosure.
The Senate passed legislation that adds hunting incident reports to the
list of exemptions to the public records law. The bill earlier passed the
Critics say the bill restricts the public’s right to know about hunting
But House Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks Committee Chairman Eric
Robinson, R-Quitman, argues that releasing the reports could jeopardize a
“If it turns out not to be an accident, if it was foul play or murder,
then it would compromise the investigation,” Robinson said.
Senate Judiciary B Committee Chairman Gray Tollison, D-Oxford, said he
was “confident” the Mississippi Department of Wildlife Fisheries and Parks
would release the reports once an investigation is complete.
The MDWFP did not return a call from The Associated Press seeking
Barbara Powell, a lobbyist for the Mississippi Center for Freedom of
Information and Common Cause, said the language in the bill is confusing.
The bill states that “hunting incident reports shall be exempt from
disclosure and dissemination” under provisions of the current law.
“The way they worded it is that it never gives an end to that,” Powell
Powell said the February 2006 hunting accident in which Vice President
Dick Cheney shot his friend is an example of the type of incident reports
the bill would keep from public view in Mississippi.
Powell said in the Cheney case, the public knew what happened, who was
involved, and how it happened. Under the anti-disclosure provisions,
however, there will be no public record that anything happened.
Robinson said the conservation officers must have probable cause to
test a hunter. Robinson said the agency has been requesting the
legislation for years.