A $299 fine for littering fishing line?


HARTFORD — When is hunting for moose and bear like littering a riverbank with fishing line?
When the House of Representatives amends a bill.
The legislation, which passed 144-0 after a 40-minute debate Wednesday, next goes to the Senate.
A section that would make intentional littering of fishing line an infraction punishable by up to $299 was added to the underlying bill, which would allow the state Department of Environmental Protection to create hunting seasons for bear or moose, if deemed necessary.

"You can't judge a bill by its title, madam speaker," Rep. Richard Roy, D-Milford, co-chairman of the Environment Committee, said to Rep. Claudia Powers, R-Greenwich, who was allowed to briefly lead the chamber in honor of her impending retirement from the General Assembly.
About a dozen lawmakers traded praise and criticism for the legislation, along with reminiscences of Powers' 16 years in the Legislature.

"No mooing please," Powers joked from the House podium, as Speaker of the House James A. Amann sat behind her, smiling.
Roy said the purpose of the legislation, which was supported during a public hearing this year but failed to be approved in the Environment Committee, is to clean up lakes, ponds, streams and riverbanks while preventing discarded fishing line from snagging and injuring fish and wildlife.
If signed into law, the legislation would require the DEP to print statements on fishing licenses declaring that intentionally abandoning fishing line can result in littering fines.

House Minority Leader Lawrence F. Cafero Jr., R-Norwalk, said the amendment was not thoroughly crafted.
"We don't say what we mean?" he asked. "There are some very legitimate instances where a fisherman would have to discard line on state or private property."

"I have a problem with a $299 fine for a little piece of line," said Rep. Pamela Z. Sawyer, R-Bolton.
Roy said the discarded line would have to be left intentionally for conservation offices to impose littering charges. "Somehow we're getting caught up in the line," quipped House Majority Leader Christopher G. Donovan, D-Meriden, who also thanked Powers, the House Republican leader-at-large, for her years of dedication to the House.