Is legalization of crossbows off again in New York? State budget talks will decide

David J. Valesky

March 18, 2014

By David Figura |

on March 14, 2014 at 10:05 AM, updated March 14, 2014 at 10:39 AM

The state Assembly earlier this week passed a budget resolution for the 2014-2015 state spending plan, leaving out any reference to legalizing crossbows for hunting and several other outdoors-related measures that were pitched by Gov. Andrew Cuomo earlier this year in his proposed executive budget.

Does that mean that crossbows will remain illegal for this year's hunting season?

It's too early to tell. The Assembly's budget resolution is essentially a "wish list" of the Assembly's Democratic majority.

The state Senate passed its budget resolution late Thursday evening, according to Jessica DeCerce, chief of staff for state Senator David Valesky, D-53th. She said it included support for Cuomo's crossbow proposal. Once all three of the budget-related documents are approved, the governor and Assembly and Senate leaders will go behind closed doors and hash out, tentatively by April 1, what will eventually become the state budget.

The fact that both the governor and the Senate want crossbows legalized still means that there's a good chance of it happening. Nothing is certain, though.

"That's the way things work here," state Assemblyman Will Barclay, R-Pulaski said. "The fact that the state Assembly didn't include crossbows doesn't mean the issue is dead. It's not a shocker. It could be used in the negotiations as a bargaining point."

Chuck Parker, president of the New York State Conservation Council and the Oswego County Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs, said the bottom is that sportsmen need to speak up - now.

"Contact your local state legislators and push hard for such things as making crossbows a legal hunting implement and other sportsmen-related items mentioned in Cuomo's budget," he said.

Other outdoors-related items favored by Cuomo that were not in the state Assembly budget resolution included reducing the minimum distance that an individual with a long bow or crossbow can discharge an arrow near an inhabited structure from 500 to 150 feet; clarifying the liability of owners, lessees and occupants whose property is used by the public for recreational activities and a provision for a vanity motor vehicle license plate for those who purchase a lifetime fishing or hunting license.

The Assembly, though, did give its nod to the following proposals that were in the governor's executive spending plan:

-Authorizing the state Department of Environmental Conservation to offer promotional, reduced cost licenses up to 10 days per year, and to designate up to eight free fishing days across the state per year.

-Creating three- and five-year hunting, fishing and trapping licenses.

-Allocating $6 million for about 50 public access projects for sportsmen on wildlife management areas including boat launches and parking lots. Spending $4 million for DEC fish hatchery improvements.

Meanwhile, in addition to supporting crossbows, the Senate resolution:

-Denies the expansion of liability releases, and creation of three- and five- year hunting, fishing and trapping licenses.

- The Senate accepts Cuomo's proposal to issue distinctive license plates for holders of certain sporting licenses. However as the Executive already has begun waiving statutorily required fees for such license plates before obtaining necessary authority from the Legislature, the Senate proposes that the Executive be granted such authority retroactive to January 1, 2014.

-There is no mention of reducing the required setback requirement for users of long bows and crossbows from 500 to 150 feet.