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Bill would make it harder to revoke Nevada hunting licenses

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CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — A Nevada lawmaker who's feuded publicly with state wildlife officials says he wants to take away some department regulatory power over hunting licenses.

Republican Assemblyman Ira Hansen is sponsoring AB142, which was discussed Thursday in the Senate Natural Resources Committee. It passed the Assembly 24-18.

The measure would lower the demerit system for hunting license suspensions to 1999 levels, which Hansen said would avoid violations that are "excessively and grossly over punished."

The demerit system works similar to regulations around driver's licenses and includes violations ranging from fishing without a license to hunting animals in a helicopter. The bill would place the system in state law, rather than department-level regulations.

Hansen says wildlife officials have tinkered too much with the demerit system over the last 20 years, and says it overly punishes infractions like trespassing.

"It became kind of habitual to tinker with it consistently," he said.

Nevada Chief Game Warden Tyler Turnipseed testified against the bill and said no changes are needed because the department on average revokes around 14 licenses a year out of more than 197,000 granted annually.

"The current system does a good job of only punishing the worst of the worst violators, not innocent sportsmen who make a mistake," he said.

The bill initially proposed doing away with the demerit system entirely and requiring a court to suspend a license, but Hansen said he amended the bill to keep the demerit system due to public support.

Hansen has fought with the state's wildlife department over allegations of illegal trapping, and he won a court case in November clearing him of about $200 in citations from the agency.

Republican Sen. Pete Goicoechea said he agreed with the concept behind the bill, but felt uncomfortable placing the regulations in state law because it would be difficult to make any changes to demerit violations.

The committee took no action on the bill.

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