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Pennsylvania House of Representatives
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House of Representatives
Session of 2023 - 2024 Regular Session


Posted: September 25, 2023 03:37 PM
From: Representative Brett R. Miller
To: All House members
Subject: Protecting Hunters' Civil Rights from Extrajudicial Punishment
In the near future, I will introduce legislation that will transfer the authority to deny, revoke, or suspend hunting licenses from the Game Commission to the courts. Additionally, this legislation will ensure that a hunter’s privileges are immediately restored upon charges being dropped, dismissed or the hunter being found not guilty.
Current law provides the Game Commission with the authority to revoke or suspend hunting or furtaking licenses when a licensee is convicted of an offense under the Game Code. When a Game Commission officer brings charges against a person for violating the Game Code, the accused person will appear before a Magistrate District Judge or another court having jurisdiction to answer the charges. The accused can either plead guilty to the charges or make a case for why he/she is not guilty. If the accused is found guilty, then the court will apply the appropriate penalty.
Upon the finding of guilt and subsequent to the penalties levied by the courts, the Game Commission has the authority to impose an additional penalty of suspending a hunters license for the duration of their choosing. In some cases, hunters have pled guilty to charges believing their cooperation would resolve their case, only to have an additional penalty of a license suspension imposed upon them several months after their court hearing without them ever knowing the suspension was forthcoming.
One of the checks and balances of our constitutional structure is the separation of powers. This separation is designed to diffuse authority across separate branches in order to protect the rights and liberties of the people. While the Game Code that the legislature passed does authorize the revocation of licenses as a penalty for various violations, this penalty is best applied by the judicial branch. This legislation will recalibrate the proper balance of powers across the separate branches by still allowing the Game Commission to investigate and bring charges for violations against the law (as our police system does), but the determination of guilt and application of all penalties will be the prerogative of the courts.
Please join me in sponsoring this legislation to protect the civil rights of hunters by transferring the authority to revoke licenses from the Game Commission to the courts.

Introduced as HB1846