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Legislation would give several hunting licenses to Guardsmen

Legislation would give several hunting licenses to Guardsmen

Legislators are considering a bill that would give several types of recreational hunting licenses at no cost to members of the Washington National Guard, who are residents, as a benefit for being part of the Guard.

The legislation, spearheaded by state Rep. Brian Blake, would grant a small game hunting license, a supplemental migratory bird permit and a big game hunting license to local Guardsmen.

A House Bill Report heard Jan. 27 before the House Agriculture & Natural Resources Committee states that Guardsmen must either be "an active full-time employee of the National Guard or a National Guard member whose status in the National Guard requires the National Guard member to participate in drill training for pay or retirement points on a part-time basis."

Colonel Daniel Dent, an avid sportsman and member of the Washington National Guard, took personal time to testify before the committee.

Dent and other Guardsmen in the audience all were present on their own time to represent the National Guard Association of Washington, a non-profit organization that provides support to the Washington National Guard.

There are about 8,200 Washington Air and Army National Guard Soldiers and Airmen, most of whom do the job part-time and have been critical parts of combat operations in Iraq and Kuwait as well as domestically helping with the landslide recovery efforts at Oso and the fires in Eastern Washington.

"This would make a powerful statement by being the first legislation of its kind to offer a state benefit," Dent testified. "There are no such similar benefits for the Guard. A benefit offered like the one offered by this bill would offer a meaningful impact to recruiting and retention efforts."

Legislation co-sponsor state Rep. Derek Stanford noted at the end of the hearing, "Thanks for all the work the National Guard does in this state. I think it is important to think about the retention issues and this is one way we can help with that."

The legislation is House Bill 1351.