Sunday hunting support strengthened

Published 2:48 pm Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Sen. Harry Blevins, R-Chesapeake, left, and delegates Rick Morris, R-Carrollton, and Roslyn Tyler, D-Jarratt, attend the Franklin-Southampton Area Chamber of Commerce's Pre-Legislative Eggs and Issues event. DALE LIESCH/TIDEWATER NEWS

FRANKLIN—One of Western Tidewater’s newest state lawmakers thinks a law allowing Sunday hunting has its best chance of passing during this year’s General Assembly session.

During the Franklin-Southampton Area Chamber of Commerce Pre-Legislative Eggs and Issues event Wednesday at Franklin Baptist Church, Sen. Harry Blevins, R-Chesapeake, said Virginia Game and Inland Fisheries’ support for Sunday hunting could make the difference.

“Game and Inland Fisheries have opposed it in the past, but now they are going to speak in favor of Sunday hunting,” Blevins said. “That changes the dynamics of it.”

Blevins, who replaced Sen. Fred Quayle after redistricting combined their districts and Quayle bowed out, realizes the controversial nature of such an issue with the Virginia Farm Bureau against Sunday hunting and many hunters in favor of it.

“It is an issue that has two sides and there are strong opinions on both sides,” Blevins said. “I don’t have a position on it. I want to listen to the people.”

Delegate Rick Morris, R-Carrollton, said Sunday hunting would be a tough issue during the legislative session that begins on Wednesday, Jan. 11.

“It’s the only activity restricted by the state on Sunday,” said Morris, who in November defeated Bill Barlow, D-Smithfield. “After speaking with the Farm Bureau and hunt clubs, I can see both sides of the issue.”

Morris, Blevins and Delegate Roslyn Tyler, D-Jarratt, discussed other issues, including the new Route 460, Gov. Bob McDonnell’s budget and schools.

Tyler, a four-term lawmaker, said one of her priorities is economic development.

“We want to keep job development opportunities open so that our students and young people can have jobs,” she said.

Morris also said economic development would be his focus.

Tyler also said protecting public education funding was important as well as preventing cuts to the higher education budget, like the state-sponsored tuition assistance grant program, which she said could be cut this year.

“If that happens, fewer kids will be able to go to college,” Tyler said.

Blevins, a former principal, said education funding is another issue that he’s concerned about, while Morris said he will introduce legislation that would study the efficiency inside education funding and would look at shared services between school boards and localities.

“The money we save should go into the classroom,” Morris said.

Tyler added that she would fight to keep about $1 million in funding to area jails and would try to keep a law enforcement funding program from being cut from the budget.

Tyler and Blevins both said transportation would be an important issue moving forward. Tyler added that she would push for more interchanges on the new proposed Route 460 project for communities like Wakefield and Waverly.