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California lawmaker drops bid to oust Fish and Game commissioner

March 9, 2012 |  5:05 pm

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Assemblyman Ben Hueso (D-San Diego) said Friday that he will not pursue a legislative vote to remove Daniel W. Richards from the state Fish and Game Commission for killing a mountain lion during a hunting trip to Idaho.

Instead, Hueso and Assembly Speaker John Pérez (D-Los Angeles) said in a letter to the governor that legislation will be introduced to "improve the standards and practices of the California Fish and Game Commission" in the future  by "requiring commissioners to abide by a strengthened conflict of interest code."

The two lawmakers also asked the governor to begin a search for a replacement for Richards who can be ready to step in when his term expires Jan. 15, 2013.

"After hearing from thousands of California residents disappointed with his poor judgment, we urge you to select an individual who will truly respect the principles of our great state’s wildlife laws," Hueso and Pérez wrote. "In the meantime, we believe the Legislature is best focused on solving the state’s remaining budget deficit, making higher education more affordable, and helping California continue to recover from the effects of the recession."

The state Constitution gives the power for removing commissioners in the middle of their terms to the Legislature, not the governor. Hueso had not introduced a resolution to remove Richards.

The legislation on commission standards has not yet been drafted, but a spokesman for the speaker said it probably will not bar commissioners from hunting in other states for wildlife that is protected in California, including mountain lions.

Richards, who is chairman of the state panel, has rejected calls by Hueso and 39 other Assembly members for him to resign, saying it is legal to kill cougars in Idaho, even though it is not allowed in California.

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A Fish and Game faux pas

Fish and Game official faces ethics complaint over hunting trip

Hunters show support for Fish and Game commissioner who killed cougar

-- Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento

Photo: Fish and Game Commission President Daniel Richards arrives Wednesday for a meeting of the panel at the Mission Inn in Riverside. Photo: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

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