White’s ‘pink’ bill advances

Published 7:00 am Saturday, April 2, 2016

Freshman State Rep. Malinda White said she didn’t set out to make national news this term.

But when White sponsored House Bill 179, a proposal that would allow hunters to wear “blaze pink” instead of hunter’s orange, national attention is exactly what she got. For weeks, publications throughout the state, region and country have been calling White, seeking comment on her bill. After its passage through the Louisiana House of Representatives on Wednesday, the attention is likely only to increase.

“It’s nuts,” she said. “I never expected it to get so much attention.”

She said legislators were considering more than 1,000 bills this session, but hers seemed to garner some of the most interest.

Even National Geographic magazine mentioned White in an article about the growing trend across rural states to include blaze pink as an officially recognized safety color for hunters.

The National Geographic article, published online Tuesday, quotes several female outdoors advocates who believe adding pink to the lineup is insulting.

“We felt like it was demeaning to us,” Sarah Ingle told the magazine. Ingle is the president of the Women’s Hunting and Sporting Association.

White disagrees. She said pink has several advantages, the first of which is safety. White said blaze pink has been proven in testing to be more visible in the fall than orange.

“People think we’re just playing around dealing with something like this, but it’s a safety issue,” said White.

But, she added, if pink attire attracts more women outdoors, so much the better. As the state faces a massive budget deficit in the next fiscal year, any additional revenue to the state’s Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is good.

“There’s more than one way to skin a cat,” she said, meaning state departments can sometimes do more than slash budgets or request tax hikes for additional funds. “Wildlife and Fisheries has found a way where they could possibly increase their budget by selling more hunting licenses.”

It was that department, in fact, that sought to add pink to the lineup.

“The chairman of the National Resources Committee said that Wildlife and Fisheries was looking for someone to carry the bill, and that sounded good as I’m a hunter and I like the outdoors.”

Still, White said she’s seen some snickering when it comes to HB 179.

“People are saying, ‘Why is Louisiana picking a bill like this during a time of budget crisis,’” she said. “When they see that, they think we’re not concerned with the issues we face, but we very much are.”

White pointed out that by law, the state legislature cannot deal with budget issues during its normal session this year. State lawmakers can only tackle those issues every other year or in special session, which happened once this year and will likely happen again, after the close of the regular session.