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LANSING — Let the nighttime frog hunts begin.

In the midst of budget negotiations and a sometimes contentious debate over the retirement system for teachers, the Senate took up something of slightly less import: frog hunting.

The Senate voted, 29-8, today, without any discussion or debate, to repeal a state law that makes it illegal to hunt frogs at night with the help of lights.

“We can do two things at once,” said Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof, R-West Olive.

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It’s a baffling law passed in 1929 and no one is quite sure of its motivation, though there’s a theory that it matches the state’s restrictions on using artificial lights to hunt deer, temporarily blinding the animals and leaving them easy prey for hunters.

Sen. Darwin Booher, R-Evart, introduced the legislation at the behest of constituent Hal Hutchinson of Evart, who spent many happy hours down south hunting frogs at night and wants to do the same with his grandkids.

“It’s such a bizarre issue with everything else that you deal with,” he told members of the Senate Natural Resources Committee last month. “But having lived in the South and participated in this sport, it’s as popular as the white-tailed deer hunting is here.”

You can use a spear to hunt frogs during the day, but combine the hunt with an artificial light at night, and that’s the rub. It’s right in the state’s fishing brochure, which spells out regulations on hunting.

“Frogs may be speared but NOT with the aid of an artificial light,” the regulations state.

Hutchinson also said the nighttime hunts result in some good eating.

The bill — SB 316 — now moves to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Contact Kathleen Gray: 313-223-4430, kgray99@freepress.com or on Twitter @michpoligal