Florida could become the 24th state to establish a constitutional right to hunt and fish in 2024 after the Florida State Legislature passed a resolution referring the question to voters.
The resolution would add a 28th section to the Declaration of Rights in the Florida Constitution to say that hunting and fishing are the preferred means for “responsibly managing and controlling fish and wildlife” and “shall be preserved forever as a public right.” The amendment would not limit the powers of the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to regulate hunting and fishing.
Vermont was the first state to constitutionalize such a right in 1777. Since then, 22 states have adopted constitutional amendments creating a right to hunt and fish beginning with Alabama in 1996. The most recent amendment was on the 2020 ballot in Utah and was approved by 75% of voters. Voters in one state—Arizona—rejected a constitutional amendment in 2010.
The constitutional amendment was introduced into the Florida State Legislature as House Joint Resolution 1157 (HJR 1157) on February 24, 2023. The House approved the amendment on April 25, 2023, by a vote of 116-0. The Senate passed the amendment on April 28, 2023, by a vote of 38-1. The single no vote came from Senate Minority Leader Lauren Book (D).
State Rep. Lauren Melo (R) said, “Many people don’t realize the economic value fishing and hunting provides our great state, combining just over $15 billion annually. People come from all over the world to catch our tarpon and snapper, and chase our turkeys and ducks. Passing this legislation is a powerful statement that we support and champion our fishing and hunting traditions, and we want to protect (them) for our future.”
Constitutional amendments in Florida must be approved by 60% of voters to pass.