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Policy Corner Brief: FEBRUARY 2023

Policy Corner Brief: FEBRUARY 2023

Policy Corner Brief: FEBRUARY 2023

STORY BY
PHOTOGRAPHY BY

Policy Corner Brief: FEBRUARY 2023

STORY BY
PHOTOGRAPHY BY
‘‘

Key Legislative Updates from the Upper Midwest

Posted on Monday, February 13, 2023

Contact: Bob Matthews, Senior Coordinator, Upper Midwestern States

  • With legislative sessions across the country in full swing, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) is hard at work engaging with lawmakers in the Upper Midwest to promote policies that protect and advance hunting, fishing, recreational shooting, and trapping.
  • Indiana, Minnesota, and North Dakota have seen the most legislative activity in the Upper Midwest region thus far.
  • Through its NASC network, CSF will continue to work with caucus leaders throughout all states in the region to engage on key issues relevant to sportsmen and women.

Why It Matters: Bills piling up on legislative calendars across the country means that hunters, anglers, recreational shooters, and trappers could see changes to their favorite pastimes. The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation is committed to protecting our time-honored outdoor traditions through active engagement in the legislative process.

With more than a month of 2023 behind us, state capitols are bustling with activity and the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation is keeping busy in the Upper Midwest by working to advance legislation that protects our outdoor heritage and thwarting legislation that harms it. Below are a few bills we’re actively engaging on in the region:

Indiana House Bill 1008 – CSF submitted testimony in support of Indiana House Bill 1008, which would prohibit the state from investing in and doing business with funds and organizations that discriminate against the firearm industry. CSF supports legislation that prohibits discrimination against the firearm industry in recognition of the industry’s immense importance to not only sportsmen and women through the production of the firearms and ammunition needed to enjoy our time-honored traditions, but also in recognition of the industry’s significant contributions to the American System of Conservation Funding (ASCF).

Indiana House Bill 1150 – CSF also submitted testimony on Indiana House Bill 1150, which would create a four-day hunting season for critically disabled veterans without those hunters needing to possess a license. CSF supports creating outdoor opportunities that honor this incredibly deserving demographic of sportsmen and women. However, because the number of licenses sold in a state is crucial to the calculation that determines that state’s Pittman-Robertson funding, CSF recommended amendments to the bill to require that these hunters still be in possession of a hunting license – which could still be given free of charge – and recommended that the revenue which would have been realized from the sale of any free or discounted licenses be reimbursed to the Indiana DNR from the state’s General Fund.

Minnesota House File 944 – CSF is currently working with industry partners to oppose HF 944, which would ban anglers from using lead tackle. There is no documented evidence that anglers’ use of lead tackle has deleterious impacts on fish and wildlife at the population level in the United States. However, banning lead fishing tackle would be detrimental to Minnesota’s economy as a whole, funding for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources through the ASCF, and the traditions enjoyed by the state’s strong community of sportsmen and women.

North Dakota House Bill 1538 – CSF submitted testimony in support of North Dakota House Bill 1538, which would make changes to the laws surrounding fishing contests to create conditions better suited for the state to host large tournaments. As written, this legislation also encourages more participation among youth anglers, all while protecting the Game and Fish Department’s ability to properly manage fish populations.

As the legislative sessions churn ahead, CSF will continue to actively monitor and engage on legislation in state capitals throughout the Upper Midwest to protect our time-honored traditions afield and in the water.

 

Action Packed Sessions Continue Across Lower Midwest

Posted on Monday, February 13, 2023

Contact: Kent Keene, Assistant Manager, Lower Midwestern States and Agriculture Policy

  • In Kansas and Iowa, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) submitted testimony in support of bills that would standardize a firearm safety curriculum, which includes hunter education, for public school districts in each state.
  • In Nebraska, CSF also weighed in on a bill that would require the state agency to reimburse landowners for damage caused by wild elk and a bill seeking to create a bounty season for many of Nebraska’s furbearers.
  • Elsewhere in the region, CSF remains engaged tracking legislation related to our time-honored outdoor traditions.

Why It Matters: As state legislatures continue to consider a variety of legislation across the nation, CSF remains engaged to protect and advance our outdoor sporting traditions. Recently, such engagement ranges from supporting efforts to promote the safe and responsible handling of firearms and participation in hunter education courses, to protecting the management authority and financial stability of state fish and wildlife agencies and their reliance on sportsmen and women in the governance of wildlife populations.

Last week, CSF had the opportunity to engage on a variety of bills across the Lower Midwest in support of our mission to protect and advance hunting, angling, recreational shooting, and trapping. In addition to our daily efforts to support the state caucuses that make up the National Assembly of Sportsmen’s Caucuses, below is a snapshot of some of the efforts that CSF made across the region.

Iowa House File 73 and Kansas Senate Bill 116 – These bills seek to standardize a firearm safety education curriculum for public schools based on the NRA’s Eddie Eagle GunSafe program for younger students and hunter education for middle and high school students. Ahead of scheduled committee hearings in both Iowa and Kansas, CSF submitted testimony in support, particularly highlighting the potential for such education to assist in the recruitment of the next generation of sportsmen and sportswomen.

Nebraska Legislative Bill 400 – Dubbed the Nebraska Pheasant Restoration Act, LB 400 is a well-intentioned but misguided bill that seeks to create a bounty harvest season for many furbearers considered to be pheasant nest predators while requiring the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission (NGPC) to pay the bounties associated with the special season. In response, CSF submitted a letter of opposition to members of the Natural Resources Committee maintaining support for NGPC’s management authority, existing furbearer hunting and trapping seasons, and increased support for voluntary conservation efforts on private lands in support of the state’s pheasant populations.

Nebraska Legislative Bill 456 – Finally, LB 456 would require NGPC to investigate claims and provide financial compensation for damage caused by elk and mountain lions on private lands. As CSF did last year in response to a similar wildlife damage compensation bill, a letter of opposition to LB 456 was submitted to members of the Natural Resources Committee.

While the subcommittee meeting for IA HF 73 was canceled, all other bills were heard in their respective committees. Following these hearings, KS SB 116 was recommended favorably by the Senate Committee on Federal and State Affairs on February 9th while NE LBs 400 and 456 await further committee action.

 

Significant Dedicated Conservation Funding Bill on the Move in Mississippi

Posted on Monday, February 06, 2023

Contact: Mark Lance, Southeastern States Coordinator

  • On February 1, 2023, HB 999, which would deposit a portion of sales tax revenue on certain outdoor sporting goods into the Mississippi Outdoor Stewardship Trust Fund (Fund), passed the House of Representatives by a strong, bipartisan vote of 106-7.
  • HB 999 was introduced by Mississippi Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus (Caucus) Member Representative Bill Kinkade.
  • The Fund was created last year through the passage of HB 606, which was championed by Caucus Member Representative Trey Lamar and co-sponsored by numerous other Caucus Members including Representative Bill Kinkade and Caucus Co-Chair and National Assembly of Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucuses Executive Council Member Representative Scott Bounds.
  • On February 2, HB 999 was transmitted to the Senate where it awaits Committee assignment.

Why It Matters: With the creation of the Mississippi Outdoor Stewardship Trust Fund and the subsequent $10 million appropriation from the State General Fund, Mississippi received additional dollars to further qualify for federal conservation programs to benefit fish and wildlife resources along with hunters and anglers. HB 999 would establish a consistent source of revenue for the Fund by dedicating sales tax on outdoor gear rather than have the Fund rely on annual appropriations made by the legislature.

Voters in Georgia took a similar step in 2018 when they approved a constitutional amendment to establish the Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Fund, which dedicates up to 80% of the existing sales tax on outdoor recreation equipment to conservation, without raising taxes or creating any new fees. This dedicated source of conservation funding has provided $20 million per year for projects since its inception.

The millions of additional dollars that this new funding stream would further supplement the over $30 million that is generated by sportsmen and women in Mississippi each year through the “user pays – public benefits” structure known as the American System of Conservation Funding further benefitting fish and wildlife conservation initiatives in the state.

Creating a dedicated source of conservation funding has been a priority for the Caucus over the past several years, and the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation will continue to work alongside the Caucus and our in-state and national partners to bring a dedicated source of conservation funding to the Magnolia State by supporting HB 999.

 

CSF Recommends Amendments to Disabled Veterans License Exemption Bill in Kansas

Posted on Monday, January 30, 2023

Contact: Kent Keene, Assistant Manager, Lower Midwestern States and Agriculture Policy

  • Ahead of its committee hearing on January 24, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) submitted a formal letter recommending amendments to Kansas House Bill 2039
  • House Bill 2039 seeks to exempt disabled veterans from hunting and fishing license requirements in the state of Kansas.
  • Given the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks’ dependence on the “user pays – public benefits” American System of Conservation Funding (ASCF), bills such as HB 2039 carry potential unintended consequences that must be considered.
  • CSF, in its testimony, recommended amending HB 2039 to allow KDWP to offer a no-cost or discounted license while, in return, receiving reimbursements for foregone license revenue from the state’s general fund.

Why It Matters: Efforts to grant license discounts or waivers for certain demographics are becoming increasingly common across the country. While such discounts carry obvious consequences for state agency license revenue, what is less understood by most is the additive impact on the agency’s ability to claim federal dollars available through the self-imposed excise taxes created through the Pittman-Robertson and Dingell-Johnson (with Wallop-Breaux Amendments) Acts. While license discounts may appear attractive, CSF encourages state legislature to consider reimbursements to state agencies to offset lost revenue and protect the integrity of the ASCF.

Ahead of its hearing in the Kansas House Committee on Veterans and Military, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation submitted formal written testimony encouraging amendments be made to House Bill 2039. As written, HB 2039 would waive license requirements for disabled veterans in Kansas. While CSF appreciates all opportunities to honor those who have so bravely served and sacrificed to protect our freedom, the amendments recommended in CSF’s testimony outline an alternative approach that ensures the longevity of the “user pays – public benefits” American System of Conservation Funding, which serves as the lone source of funding for fish and wildlife conservation efforts conducted by the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP).

To understand the full consequences associated with HB 2039, as written, it’s important to understand the ASCF, particularly as it relates to the allocation of federally collected excise taxes through the Pittman-Robertson Act and Dingell-Johnson Act with Wallop-Breaux Amendments. To determine each state’s share of this revenue the US Fish and Wildlife Service uses a formula that, in part, considers the number of certified hunting and fishing licenses sold. To be certified, a license must result in revenue for the state fish and wildlife agency. With that in mind, it becomes clear that a complete license waiver would cost KDWP much more than just the price of the waived licenses.

As a way to address this challenge, CSF has developed a position that maintains the license requirement for all sportsmen and women who must currently possess a license. However, we support legislatures exploring well-intentioned discounts for deserving demographics, so long as the legislature is willing to reimburse the state fish and wildlife agency for the foregone revenue using the state’s general fund. In doing so, those who deserve the discounted (or in some cases no-cost) licenses may receive them while the state fish and wildlife agency continues to receive all the financial resources needed to execute its mission. All in all, this approach is a win-win for conservation and sportsmen and women.

 

CSF Opposes Bill That Would Prohibit North Dakota Game & Fish from Promulgating Rules

Posted on Monday, January 23, 2023

Contact: Bob Matthews, Senior Coordinator, Upper Midwestern States

Why It Matters: State fish and wildlife management agencies are the entities best equipped to make important science-based conservation decisions. Legislation that strips away that ability is harmful to sportsmen and women because it takes important authority away from conservation experts and eliminates the ability of those agency experts to quickly respond to changing circumstances.

CSF provided written testimony before the North Dakota House Committee on Energy & Natural Resources last Friday, January 20th, opposing House Bill 1151, which would bar the Director of the Game & Fish Department (GFD) from promulgating rules that prohibit baiting while hunting on private land.

State wildlife management agencies are comprised of capable wildlife biologists that are aware of the constantly changing threats to the health of wildlife populations. By legislating away the decision-making authority of these agencies, they cannot quickly respond to threats through administrative action. Having an agency with the ability to properly administer rules is especially relevant in a state like North Dakota, in which the legislature meets every other year. The North Dakota GFD is the agency that was specifically established by the North Dakota legislature to protect the state’s storied public trust fish and wildlife resources and removing its ability to do so is counterproductive to the agency’s purpose.

The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation will continue to promote science-based wildlife management decision-making by opposing legislation like North Dakota’s House Bill 1511. Stripping state agencies of their authority to carry out the functions that those agencies were created for is detrimental to any state’s fish and wildlife management efforts.

 

New Hampshire Bill Seeks to Clarify State Laws Surrounding “E-Stamps”

Posted on Monday, January 23, 2023

Contact: Joe Bachar, New England States Coordinator

  • In 1934, the Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Act was passed which requires all migratory bird hunters aged 16 years and older to purchase a stamp annually to pursue migratory birds.
  • In 2013, the Permanent Electronic Duck Stamp Act authorized the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to permanently authorize any state to sell Federal Duck Stamps electronically, which “allows you to purchase a stamp online and immediately use the certification to legally hunt for 45 days while your physical stamp is mailed to you.”
  • S.B. 18 would amend the New Hampshire Code to clarify that an electronic receipt of a federal duck stamp is valid for 45 days or until the physical stamp arrives.
  • In addition to our support for S.B. 18, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) encourages New Hampshire to seek authorization from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service to sell electronic Federal Duck Stamps through their online licensing system.

Why It Matters: Federal Duck Stamps are required to pursue many birds, including waterfowl and woodcock, which are popular in New Hampshire. There exists a great deal of variation across the states regarding the method by which these stamps are purchased. Although an electronic receipt or confirmation of purchase is valid under federal law, lack of clarity in certain states causes headaches for hunters who are trying to ensure they are fulfilling all legal requirements to pursue game.

This week, the New Hampshire Senate Committee on Ways and Means held a hearing which included S.B. 18 – “An Act Relative to the Purchase of Duck Stamps and the Suspension or Revocation of a License Issues by the Fish and Game Commission”. CSF is working with the leaders of the New Hampshire Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus and other legislative leaders to secure the passage of this bill.

Federal Duck Stamps have played a crucial role in the recovery and management of wildlife populations since their inception in 1934. Since then, sales of Federal Duck Stamps have generated over $1 billion for conserving 6 million acres of land that benefits game and non-game species alike. Additionally, each year FWS hosts a competition for artwork to be featured on the next stamp, which raises additional awareness for migratory bird conservation among hunters and the broader conservation community.

S.B. 18 is an important step to clarify the requirements surrounding Federal Migratory Bird Stamps (Federal Duck Stamps) in New Hampshire. Just as in the rest of the country, hunters aged 16+ who wish to pursue migratory birds in New Hampshire are required to purchase a Federal Duck Stamp. S.B. 18 makes it clear that the “confirmation of an electronic migratory bird hunting and conservation stamp, purchased within the previous 45 days” is equivalent to a signed physical stamp.

Furthermore, New Hampshire should consider seeking authorization from the FWS to become the 29th state to allow hunters to purchase Federal Duck Stamps from the same website/licensed agents that they already purchase other necessary licenses and tags. Currently, hunters are able to purchase Federal Duck Stamps online from state fish and wildlife agencies in 28 states, meaning New Hampshire hunters who purchase their stamps online have to use a different state’s website (e.g., Massachusetts currently offers Federal Duck Stamps for sale online). Seeking authorization to sell E-Stamps through the NHFG Department’s website would simplify this process for New Hampshire hunters and lead to overall greater satisfaction among hunters who appreciate the convenience associated with technological advances in the license and stamp purchasing process.

Policy Corner Brief: FEBRUARY 2023 This article is published in the issue.
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Policy Corner Brief: FEBRUARY 2023

Key Legislative Updates from the Upper Midwest

Posted on Monday, February 13, 2023

Contact: Bob Matthews, Senior Coordinator, Upper Midwestern States

  • With legislative sessions across the country in full swing, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) is hard at work engaging with lawmakers in the Upper Midwest to promote policies that protect and advance hunting, fishing, recreational shooting, and trapping.
  • Indiana, Minnesota, and North Dakota have seen the most legislative activity in the Upper Midwest region thus far.
  • Through its NASC network, CSF will continue to work with caucus leaders throughout all states in the region to engage on key issues relevant to sportsmen and women.

Why It Matters: Bills piling up on legislative calendars across the country means that hunters, anglers, recreational shooters, and trappers could see changes to their favorite pastimes. The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation is committed to protecting our time-honored outdoor traditions through active engagement in the legislative process.

With more than a month of 2023 behind us, state capitols are bustling with activity and the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation is keeping busy in the Upper Midwest by working to advance legislation that protects our outdoor heritage and thwarting legislation that harms it. Below are a few bills we’re actively engaging on in the region:

Indiana House Bill 1008 – CSF submitted testimony in support of Indiana House Bill 1008, which would prohibit the state from investing in and doing business with funds and organizations that discriminate against the firearm industry. CSF supports legislation that prohibits discrimination against the firearm industry in recognition of the industry’s immense importance to not only sportsmen and women through the production of the firearms and ammunition needed to enjoy our time-honored traditions, but also in recognition of the industry’s significant contributions to the American System of Conservation Funding (ASCF).

Indiana House Bill 1150 – CSF also submitted testimony on Indiana House Bill 1150, which would create a four-day hunting season for critically disabled veterans without those hunters needing to possess a license. CSF supports creating outdoor opportunities that honor this incredibly deserving demographic of sportsmen and women. However, because the number of licenses sold in a state is crucial to the calculation that determines that state’s Pittman-Robertson funding, CSF recommended amendments to the bill to require that these hunters still be in possession of a hunting license – which could still be given free of charge – and recommended that the revenue which would have been realized from the sale of any free or discounted licenses be reimbursed to the Indiana DNR from the state’s General Fund.

Minnesota House File 944 – CSF is currently working with industry partners to oppose HF 944, which would ban anglers from using lead tackle. There is no documented evidence that anglers’ use of lead tackle has deleterious impacts on fish and wildlife at the population level in the United States. However, banning lead fishing tackle would be detrimental to Minnesota’s economy as a whole, funding for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources through the ASCF, and the traditions enjoyed by the state’s strong community of sportsmen and women.

North Dakota House Bill 1538 – CSF submitted testimony in support of North Dakota House Bill 1538, which would make changes to the laws surrounding fishing contests to create conditions better suited for the state to host large tournaments. As written, this legislation also encourages more participation among youth anglers, all while protecting the Game and Fish Department’s ability to properly manage fish populations.

As the legislative sessions churn ahead, CSF will continue to actively monitor and engage on legislation in state capitals throughout the Upper Midwest to protect our time-honored traditions afield and in the water.

 

Action Packed Sessions Continue Across Lower Midwest

Posted on Monday, February 13, 2023

Contact: Kent Keene, Assistant Manager, Lower Midwestern States and Agriculture Policy

  • In Kansas and Iowa, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) submitted testimony in support of bills that would standardize a firearm safety curriculum, which includes hunter education, for public school districts in each state.
  • In Nebraska, CSF also weighed in on a bill that would require the state agency to reimburse landowners for damage caused by wild elk and a bill seeking to create a bounty season for many of Nebraska’s furbearers.
  • Elsewhere in the region, CSF remains engaged tracking legislation related to our time-honored outdoor traditions.

Why It Matters: As state legislatures continue to consider a variety of legislation across the nation, CSF remains engaged to protect and advance our outdoor sporting traditions. Recently, such engagement ranges from supporting efforts to promote the safe and responsible handling of firearms and participation in hunter education courses, to protecting the management authority and financial stability of state fish and wildlife agencies and their reliance on sportsmen and women in the governance of wildlife populations.

Last week, CSF had the opportunity to engage on a variety of bills across the Lower Midwest in support of our mission to protect and advance hunting, angling, recreational shooting, and trapping. In addition to our daily efforts to support the state caucuses that make up the National Assembly of Sportsmen’s Caucuses, below is a snapshot of some of the efforts that CSF made across the region.

Iowa House File 73 and Kansas Senate Bill 116 – These bills seek to standardize a firearm safety education curriculum for public schools based on the NRA’s Eddie Eagle GunSafe program for younger students and hunter education for middle and high school students. Ahead of scheduled committee hearings in both Iowa and Kansas, CSF submitted testimony in support, particularly highlighting the potential for such education to assist in the recruitment of the next generation of sportsmen and sportswomen.

Nebraska Legislative Bill 400 – Dubbed the Nebraska Pheasant Restoration Act, LB 400 is a well-intentioned but misguided bill that seeks to create a bounty harvest season for many furbearers considered to be pheasant nest predators while requiring the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission (NGPC) to pay the bounties associated with the special season. In response, CSF submitted a letter of opposition to members of the Natural Resources Committee maintaining support for NGPC’s management authority, existing furbearer hunting and trapping seasons, and increased support for voluntary conservation efforts on private lands in support of the state’s pheasant populations.

Nebraska Legislative Bill 456 – Finally, LB 456 would require NGPC to investigate claims and provide financial compensation for damage caused by elk and mountain lions on private lands. As CSF did last year in response to a similar wildlife damage compensation bill, a letter of opposition to LB 456 was submitted to members of the Natural Resources Committee.

While the subcommittee meeting for IA HF 73 was canceled, all other bills were heard in their respective committees. Following these hearings, KS SB 116 was recommended favorably by the Senate Committee on Federal and State Affairs on February 9th while NE LBs 400 and 456 await further committee action.

 

Significant Dedicated Conservation Funding Bill on the Move in Mississippi

Posted on Monday, February 06, 2023

Contact: Mark Lance, Southeastern States Coordinator

  • On February 1, 2023, HB 999, which would deposit a portion of sales tax revenue on certain outdoor sporting goods into the Mississippi Outdoor Stewardship Trust Fund (Fund), passed the House of Representatives by a strong, bipartisan vote of 106-7.
  • HB 999 was introduced by Mississippi Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus (Caucus) Member Representative Bill Kinkade.
  • The Fund was created last year through the passage of HB 606, which was championed by Caucus Member Representative Trey Lamar and co-sponsored by numerous other Caucus Members including Representative Bill Kinkade and Caucus Co-Chair and National Assembly of Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucuses Executive Council Member Representative Scott Bounds.
  • On February 2, HB 999 was transmitted to the Senate where it awaits Committee assignment.

Why It Matters: With the creation of the Mississippi Outdoor Stewardship Trust Fund and the subsequent $10 million appropriation from the State General Fund, Mississippi received additional dollars to further qualify for federal conservation programs to benefit fish and wildlife resources along with hunters and anglers. HB 999 would establish a consistent source of revenue for the Fund by dedicating sales tax on outdoor gear rather than have the Fund rely on annual appropriations made by the legislature.

Voters in Georgia took a similar step in 2018 when they approved a constitutional amendment to establish the Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Fund, which dedicates up to 80% of the existing sales tax on outdoor recreation equipment to conservation, without raising taxes or creating any new fees. This dedicated source of conservation funding has provided $20 million per year for projects since its inception.

The millions of additional dollars that this new funding stream would further supplement the over $30 million that is generated by sportsmen and women in Mississippi each year through the “user pays – public benefits” structure known as the American System of Conservation Funding further benefitting fish and wildlife conservation initiatives in the state.

Creating a dedicated source of conservation funding has been a priority for the Caucus over the past several years, and the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation will continue to work alongside the Caucus and our in-state and national partners to bring a dedicated source of conservation funding to the Magnolia State by supporting HB 999.

 

CSF Recommends Amendments to Disabled Veterans License Exemption Bill in Kansas

Posted on Monday, January 30, 2023

Contact: Kent Keene, Assistant Manager, Lower Midwestern States and Agriculture Policy

  • Ahead of its committee hearing on January 24, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) submitted a formal letter recommending amendments to Kansas House Bill 2039
  • House Bill 2039 seeks to exempt disabled veterans from hunting and fishing license requirements in the state of Kansas.
  • Given the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks’ dependence on the “user pays – public benefits” American System of Conservation Funding (ASCF), bills such as HB 2039 carry potential unintended consequences that must be considered.
  • CSF, in its testimony, recommended amending HB 2039 to allow KDWP to offer a no-cost or discounted license while, in return, receiving reimbursements for foregone license revenue from the state’s general fund.

Why It Matters: Efforts to grant license discounts or waivers for certain demographics are becoming increasingly common across the country. While such discounts carry obvious consequences for state agency license revenue, what is less understood by most is the additive impact on the agency’s ability to claim federal dollars available through the self-imposed excise taxes created through the Pittman-Robertson and Dingell-Johnson (with Wallop-Breaux Amendments) Acts. While license discounts may appear attractive, CSF encourages state legislature to consider reimbursements to state agencies to offset lost revenue and protect the integrity of the ASCF.

Ahead of its hearing in the Kansas House Committee on Veterans and Military, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation submitted formal written testimony encouraging amendments be made to House Bill 2039. As written, HB 2039 would waive license requirements for disabled veterans in Kansas. While CSF appreciates all opportunities to honor those who have so bravely served and sacrificed to protect our freedom, the amendments recommended in CSF’s testimony outline an alternative approach that ensures the longevity of the “user pays – public benefits” American System of Conservation Funding, which serves as the lone source of funding for fish and wildlife conservation efforts conducted by the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP).

To understand the full consequences associated with HB 2039, as written, it’s important to understand the ASCF, particularly as it relates to the allocation of federally collected excise taxes through the Pittman-Robertson Act and Dingell-Johnson Act with Wallop-Breaux Amendments. To determine each state’s share of this revenue the US Fish and Wildlife Service uses a formula that, in part, considers the number of certified hunting and fishing licenses sold. To be certified, a license must result in revenue for the state fish and wildlife agency. With that in mind, it becomes clear that a complete license waiver would cost KDWP much more than just the price of the waived licenses.

As a way to address this challenge, CSF has developed a position that maintains the license requirement for all sportsmen and women who must currently possess a license. However, we support legislatures exploring well-intentioned discounts for deserving demographics, so long as the legislature is willing to reimburse the state fish and wildlife agency for the foregone revenue using the state’s general fund. In doing so, those who deserve the discounted (or in some cases no-cost) licenses may receive them while the state fish and wildlife agency continues to receive all the financial resources needed to execute its mission. All in all, this approach is a win-win for conservation and sportsmen and women.

 

CSF Opposes Bill That Would Prohibit North Dakota Game & Fish from Promulgating Rules

Posted on Monday, January 23, 2023

Contact: Bob Matthews, Senior Coordinator, Upper Midwestern States

Why It Matters: State fish and wildlife management agencies are the entities best equipped to make important science-based conservation decisions. Legislation that strips away that ability is harmful to sportsmen and women because it takes important authority away from conservation experts and eliminates the ability of those agency experts to quickly respond to changing circumstances.

CSF provided written testimony before the North Dakota House Committee on Energy & Natural Resources last Friday, January 20th, opposing House Bill 1151, which would bar the Director of the Game & Fish Department (GFD) from promulgating rules that prohibit baiting while hunting on private land.

State wildlife management agencies are comprised of capable wildlife biologists that are aware of the constantly changing threats to the health of wildlife populations. By legislating away the decision-making authority of these agencies, they cannot quickly respond to threats through administrative action. Having an agency with the ability to properly administer rules is especially relevant in a state like North Dakota, in which the legislature meets every other year. The North Dakota GFD is the agency that was specifically established by the North Dakota legislature to protect the state’s storied public trust fish and wildlife resources and removing its ability to do so is counterproductive to the agency’s purpose.

The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation will continue to promote science-based wildlife management decision-making by opposing legislation like North Dakota’s House Bill 1511. Stripping state agencies of their authority to carry out the functions that those agencies were created for is detrimental to any state’s fish and wildlife management efforts.

 

New Hampshire Bill Seeks to Clarify State Laws Surrounding “E-Stamps”

Posted on Monday, January 23, 2023

Contact: Joe Bachar, New England States Coordinator

  • In 1934, the Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Act was passed which requires all migratory bird hunters aged 16 years and older to purchase a stamp annually to pursue migratory birds.
  • In 2013, the Permanent Electronic Duck Stamp Act authorized the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to permanently authorize any state to sell Federal Duck Stamps electronically, which “allows you to purchase a stamp online and immediately use the certification to legally hunt for 45 days while your physical stamp is mailed to you.”
  • S.B. 18 would amend the New Hampshire Code to clarify that an electronic receipt of a federal duck stamp is valid for 45 days or until the physical stamp arrives.
  • In addition to our support for S.B. 18, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) encourages New Hampshire to seek authorization from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service to sell electronic Federal Duck Stamps through their online licensing system.

Why It Matters: Federal Duck Stamps are required to pursue many birds, including waterfowl and woodcock, which are popular in New Hampshire. There exists a great deal of variation across the states regarding the method by which these stamps are purchased. Although an electronic receipt or confirmation of purchase is valid under federal law, lack of clarity in certain states causes headaches for hunters who are trying to ensure they are fulfilling all legal requirements to pursue game.

This week, the New Hampshire Senate Committee on Ways and Means held a hearing which included S.B. 18 – “An Act Relative to the Purchase of Duck Stamps and the Suspension or Revocation of a License Issues by the Fish and Game Commission”. CSF is working with the leaders of the New Hampshire Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus and other legislative leaders to secure the passage of this bill.

Federal Duck Stamps have played a crucial role in the recovery and management of wildlife populations since their inception in 1934. Since then, sales of Federal Duck Stamps have generated over $1 billion for conserving 6 million acres of land that benefits game and non-game species alike. Additionally, each year FWS hosts a competition for artwork to be featured on the next stamp, which raises additional awareness for migratory bird conservation among hunters and the broader conservation community.

S.B. 18 is an important step to clarify the requirements surrounding Federal Migratory Bird Stamps (Federal Duck Stamps) in New Hampshire. Just as in the rest of the country, hunters aged 16+ who wish to pursue migratory birds in New Hampshire are required to purchase a Federal Duck Stamp. S.B. 18 makes it clear that the “confirmation of an electronic migratory bird hunting and conservation stamp, purchased within the previous 45 days” is equivalent to a signed physical stamp.

Furthermore, New Hampshire should consider seeking authorization from the FWS to become the 29th state to allow hunters to purchase Federal Duck Stamps from the same website/licensed agents that they already purchase other necessary licenses and tags. Currently, hunters are able to purchase Federal Duck Stamps online from state fish and wildlife agencies in 28 states, meaning New Hampshire hunters who purchase their stamps online have to use a different state’s website (e.g., Massachusetts currently offers Federal Duck Stamps for sale online). Seeking authorization to sell E-Stamps through the NHFG Department’s website would simplify this process for New Hampshire hunters and lead to overall greater satisfaction among hunters who appreciate the convenience associated with technological advances in the license and stamp purchasing process.

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