Two controversial bills that loosen rules for Sunday hunting and nonprofit “game night” events cleared the legislature late Thursday night and are heading to the governor’s desk.
House Bill 559, titled “Outdoor Heritage Enhanced,” goes beyond a 2015 law legalizing Sunday hunting. Hunters could hunt migratory birds, such as ducks, on Sundays if the state’s appointed Wildlife Resources Commission approves the change and sets rules for the practice. The commission would conduct a formal study of the issue and report findings to the legislature.
“We’ve got ourselves a really good bill now that will certainly help our young people be more involved with the outdoor sports,” said Sen. John Alexander, a Raleigh Republican and sponsor of the bill.
The final version of the bill requires a voter referendum for counties seeking to have a local ban on Sunday hunting, but it dropped a proposal to allow hunting on Sunday mornings when church is in session.
Another bill that cleared the legislature Thursday would let restaurants and bars host nonprofit fundraisers featuring games of chance and alcohol.
If Cooper signs the bill, groups hosting game nights – which can include raffles, casino-style games and other games with prizes – would need a permit and would be limited in the number of events they can hold per year.
The final version of the bill also would allow businesses to hold game nights for their employees and trade associations to hold game nights for their members.
Both the game night bill and Sunday hunting bill drew opposition from conservative religious groups.