Hunters take aim at AZ state representative over dead bill

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By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas

PHOENIX -- Some hunters are waiting decades to get a chance to bag big game in Arizona. The hunters put their names in a drawing for a public lottery.

“I've never drawn a sheep tag,” said avid hunter Bill Mclean.

McLean’s afraid his time is running out.

The fear stems from a recent House bill proposing the privatization of hundreds of publicly owned hunting permits.

“Right now if you’re picked in the lottery you're only paying $200 or $250 for that tag,” said hunter Allen Taylor.

Privatizing and auctioning off the tags would make them too pricey for Taylor.

“The most recent number on a deer tag was $222,000 auctioned off in Utah,” Taylor said.

District 12 state Rep. Jerry Weiers sponsored HB2072 and killed it because of the uproar.

“What I see is this wedge that's literally dividing sporting and I just can't let that happen,” Weiers said.

But now, the state representative said the group Arizona Sportsmen for Wildlife (SFW), who helped write his bill, is now pushing it on other legislators.

“It worries me that there's a group still pushing it, but I can tell you I'm working as hard as I can to stop that," Weiers said.

It just so happens SFW’s group chairman, lobbyist and several members contributed to Weiers' 2012 campaign.

When asked about the conflict of interest, Weiers replied, “Let’s clear that up first. First of all, the bill was wrote, I agreed to do the bill after the bill was dropped and they actually held a fundraiser. So no, I don’t believe there was any conflict of interest at all.”

The state representative said a number of other groups contributed to the writing of the bill.

Weiers now said he can't support the bill because there are too many ways to hide money.

When asked why he didn’t see that before, Weirs said, “I can't explain what I was doing that particular day, but my days are rather busy."

The state representative said he initially opened a can of worms and he’s trying to figure out how to get the lid back on it.

This is Weiers' last term in office.