Legislature moves forward on fluorescent pink clothing for hunters

AP and WiG reports

As the legislative session draws to a close amid news that Wisconsin lost 10,000 jobs last year, the most since the Great Recession, the state’s lawmakers are hard at work on a bill that would allow hunters to wear fluorescent pink in order to attract more women. Current law mandates that at least half of each article of clothing that gun deer hunters wear above the waist must be blaze orange. The bill would allow hunters to wear swap their blaze orange for fluorescent pink.

The Senate’s agriculture committee approved the bill on a 7–2 vote on Wednesday, clearing the way for the full Senate to take up the measure.

The Assembly passed the bill on a voice vote in November. Full Senate approval would send the measure on to Gov. Scott Walker for his signature.

It wasn’t clear, however, whether Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, would bring up the bill up for a vote. His spokeswoman didn’t immediately respond to an email inquiring about the bill’s chances.

The measure’s authors include a mix of Republicans and minority Democrats — a rare, if insignificant, example of bipartisanship. But Rep. Nick Milroy, D-South Range, one of the bill’s chief Assembly authors, has sold the bill as a way to attract more women to hunting — a stance that has drawn the ire of at least some women hunters who see the measure as sexist.

The committee approved the bill with next to no discussion. Sen. Sheila Harsdorf, R-Hudson, made the only comment, saying she was casting a “reluctant” yes as she voted. She had said during a public hearing on the bill last week that it shouldn’t be about attracting women to the sport.

She said after the committee vote that the bill creates the perception that lawmakers believe people decide to hunt based on the color of the clothes they can wear in the field. She said she decided to vote for it after Rep. Joel Kleefisch, R-Oconomowoc, another key Assembly sponsor, insisted during the public hearing that the bill is really about giving hunters options.

“I don’t see this as a way to get women to hunt,” Harsdorf said.

Republican Sens. Tom Tiffany of Hazelhurst and Devin LaMahieu of Oostburg cast the two dissenting votes. Tiffany said he had heard from constituents who felt the bill was pandering to women and was sexist. He said, though, that his vote wasn’t an emphatic “no” and he’s anxious to see if blaze pink might be a good thing.

LaMahieu called into the meeting and hung up when it adjourned. He also didn’t immediately return a message left at his office. During the public hearing he mentioned that the only constituents who contacted him about the bill were women who asked whether the measure was a joke.