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Policy Corner Brief: MAY 2022

Policy Corner Brief: MAY 2022

Policy Corner Brief: MAY 2022

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PHOTOGRAPHY BY

Policy Corner Brief: MAY 2022

STORY BY
PHOTOGRAPHY BY
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Pro-Sportsmen Bills Signed into Law in Georgia

Posted on Monday, May 16, 2022

Contact: Mark Lance, Southeastern States Coordinator

  • On May 10, Governors Sportsmen’s Caucus (GSC) Member Governor Brian Kemp signed multiple pro-sportsmen bills into law. All of the bills were sponsored by members of the Georgia Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus (Caucus).
  • House Bill 1349 (HB 1349) extends the baseline date for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) No-Net-Loss statute to protect acreage available for hunting opportunities on DNR managed state-owned lands.
  • House Bill 1148 (HB 1148) co-sponsored by Caucus Co-Chair Representative David Knight, strengthens Georgia’s Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) prevention strategy by prohibiting the importation and possession of certain Cervidae (deer family) carcasses or parts from out-of-state.
  • House Bill 1147 (HB 1147) allows for the trapping, on private land, and hunting of raccoons and opossums year-round in Georgia.

Why it Matters: The signing of these pro-sportsmen bills into law protect and advance hunting opportunities for sportsmen and women in the Peach State. In 2021 alone, the sporting commmunity contributed over $64 million to conservation funding through the “user pays—public benefits” structure known as the American System of Conservation Funding.

With the passage of HB 1349, Georgia updates their No-Net-Loss legislation, which limits the loss of access to hunting opportunity by establishing a minimum acreage of state-owned areas open to sportsmen and women. Georgia’s previous accounting from 2005, which protected 300,000 acres for hunting access, will be updated to reflect the more than 200,000 acres which have become part of the public trust over the past 17 years. This helps ensure that future generations of Georgians will have similar access to hunting opportunities tomorrow that exist today.

Additionally, Georgia is proactive in their fight to keep Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) from being introduced into the state through the passage of HB 1148. CWD is a progressive, fatal, degenerative neurological disease that occurs in farmed and free-ranging deer, and has been confirmed in neighboring Alabama, North Carolina, and Tennessee. The importation and possession of certain Cervidae carcasses or parts from outside of the state, except for deboned meat, antlers, skulls, skull plates, teeth, or jawbones with no soft tissue attached, hides with no heads attached, and finished taxidermy, will be prohibited.

Racoons and opossums are notorious for negatively impacting ground nesting bird populations such as turkey and quail. With HB 1147’s passage, it will not only allows for increased hunting and trapping opportunities throughout the year, but the passed legislation will also aid in further managing highly successful nest predator populations.

The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation applauds Governor Kemp and the Caucus for their continued support of Georgia’s rich sporting heritage through the passage of these bills.

 

Firearm and Ammunition Tax Bill Resurfaces in the California Legislature

Posted on Monday, May 16, 2022

Contact: Keely Hopkins, Manager, Pacific Region

  • Despite being defeated on the floor in 2021 and failing to advance ahead of the legislative cutoff deadline earlier this year, proponents of AB 1223 have once again utilized procedural maneuvers to resurface their proposal to impose a 10-11% tax on all firearm and ammunition sales in the state.
  • Using a “gut and amend” tactic earlier this month, proponents stripped language from AB 1227, originally introduced as a solar energy efficiency bill, and instead replaced it with the same language as the previously defeated AB 1223.
  • The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) has been working with national and in-state coalition partners in opposition to this bill since its introduction in 2021 and will continue to oppose this misguided policy that is now in the form of AB 1227.

Why It Matters: California’s law-abiding hunters and recreational shooters have long played a vital role in funding conservation and wildlife management efforts throughout the state. Under the American System of Conservation Funding (ASCF), a unique “user pays — public benefits” structure, California’s sportsmen and women generate tens of millions of dollars each year for the California Department of Fish & Wildlife. These funds are generated through license sales and an 11% federal excise tax on sporting-related goods, including firearms and ammunition. Decreased firearm and ammunition purchases that result from additional taxes and costs would have a negative impact on conservation funding in the state.  

After being defeated in 2021 and failing to meet legislative cutoff deadlines earlier this year, the proposed tax on firearm and ammunition purchases has once again resurfaced in the California legislature in the form of Assembly Bill 1227. Utilizing “gut and amend” tactics, proponents stripped the language from AB 1227, which was originally introduced as a solar energy efficiency bill, and instead replaced it with the language from the defeated AB 1223 that seeks to impose a 10-11% tax on all firearm and ammunition purchases in the state.

AB 1223 was introduced during the 2021 legislative session and was allegedly designed to “mirror” the federal excise tax paid by sportsmen and women to fund conservation efforts via the Pittman-Robertson Act. The revenue in this case, however, would not be used to fund conservation and would instead go to a program that aids the effects of illegal criminal activity. This bill was defeated on the floor during the 2021 session, however proponents used procedural maneuvers to add an “urgency clause” to the legislation, which exempted the bill from regular deadlines and rules and allowed the bill to be to be carried over to the 2022 session. Having not received a floor vote by the January 31, 2022, deadline, the proposal should have been defeated for the biennial session, yet proponents have once again maneuvered their proposal forward by commandeering AB 1227.

Each year, California’s sportsmen and women contribute tens of millions of dollars to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, providing vital revenue to help carry out their mission of managing the state’s diverse fish and wildlife, and the habitats upon which they depend. These funds are generated through fishing and hunting license sales, and through the purchase of sporting-related goods. Under the Pittman-Robertson Act, California’s hunters and recreational shooters pay a 10-11% excise tax on all firearm and ammunition purchases, which in turn funds a large portion of the state’s wildlife management, conservation, and research efforts. AB 1227, if passed, would place an additional tax on top of the existing taxes, thereby driving up the costs of these goods, reducing their sales, and in turn, reducing the conservation funding from which all California residents enjoy.

The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) has been opposed to the proposed tax from its introduction, testifying before both Assembly committees and joining coalition partners in submitting several opposition letters. CSF will continue to work with partners in opposition to AB 1227 and encourages all California residents to contact their state Senator and urge them to vote “No” on this bill should it make its way to the Senate floor. CSF will continue to keep you updated on the status of the legislation.

 

Senate Committee Unanimously Passes America’s Outdoor Recreation Act, Top CSF Priority

Posted on Monday, May 09, 2022

  • Last week, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources voted to unanimously pass America’s Outdoor Recreation Act (S. 3266), a bill strongly supported by the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF).
  • The America’s Outdoor Recreation Act is a bipartisan bill led by Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) Vice Chair Senator Joe Manchin (WV) and CSC Member John Barrasso (WY), who respectively serve as the Chair and Ranking Member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
  • In December, CSF submitted a statement for the record in strong support of the Outdoor Recreation Act, and in advance of the vote last week, urged CSC Members on the Committee to vote favorably on the bill.

Why it matters: Our nation’s vast network of federal public lands and water provide significant recreational opportunities for America’s sportsmen and women. The Outdoor Recreation Act recognizes the importance of federal public lands for sportsmen and women by seeking to increase public access, modernize public land visitation data, and conserve important water systems for anglers and boaters.

On Tuesday, May 3, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee passed the CSF supported America’s Outdoor Recreation Act of 2022 on a unanimous vote, a sign of the widespread for this legislation.

After years of coordination with the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, the America’s Outdoor Recreation Act includes language that requires the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management to ensure that each of their respective districts has at least one public target shooting range. Not only does this provision recognize CSF’s efforts to promote recreational shooting, but it also recognizes the important role played by America’s 32 million recreational target shooters who are the backbone of state wildlife conservation funding.

The America’s Outdoor Recreation Act will also provide assistance to federal agencies to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species, which pose a serious threat to native aquatic ecosystems and the economy. Once established, aquatic invasive species are difficult, if not impossible, to eradicate, and significant resources must be invested annually on population management. Preventing harmful introductions before they occur is the most effective means to avoid the risk aquatic nuisance species present. For example, Zebra mussels alone cause $300–$500 million annually in damages to power plants, water systems, and industrial water intakes in the Great Lakes Region.

Furthermore, this legislation includes language that will help improve future federal land agency planning decisions and would enhance user planning efforts for the general public. Specifically, the Improved Recreation Visitation Data section directs certain federal land management agencies to capture various recreation visitation data. This section also establishes a real-time data pilot program to make available to the public real-time or predictive visitation data for federal lands, helping sportsmen and women with their trip planning efforts.

The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation applauds CSC Vice Chair Sen. Manchin and CSC Member Sen. Barrasso for leading the America’s Outdoor Recreation Act and applauds the Energy and Natural Resources Committee for recognizing the importance of this bill with a unanimous vote.

 

Looking Back on a Busy Legislative Session for Sportsmen’s Issues

Posted on Monday, May 09, 2022

Contact: John Culclasure, Southeastern States Director

Why It Matters: The passage of the Sunday hunting legislation is a huge win for the Virginia sportsmen’s community, working with the Virginia Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus, to provide seven-day access on more than 2 million acres of public land. The defeat of the anti-trapping bills and the predator hunting tournament ban bill are significant as well but represent a trend of increasing anti-sportsmen’s legislation in Virginia. The takeaway is that the sportsmen’s community can be effective in influencing policy but needs to remain vigilant to protect sporting traditions in the Commonwealth.

While the Virginia General Assembly wrapped up the 2022 regular session earlier this spring, this is a good time to reflect on the session and what it means for hunters and anglers in the Commonwealth.

Notably, marking the culmination of a multi-year effort, public lands Sunday hunting legislation was signed into law. Senate Bill 8, sponsored by Senator Chap Petersen, was the fourth public lands Sunday hunting bill introduced in the three years. After introducing full repeal public lands Sunday hunting bills in the last two sessions, Virginia Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chair Delegate James Edmunds introduced a scaled-back Sunday hunting bill (House Bill 111) that would have only allowed seven-day hunting on Wildlife Management Areas. Ironically, that bill failed to advance, but the full repeal public lands Sunday hunting bill, Senate Bill 8, made it over the finish line thanks to coordinated support from the sportsmen’s community.

Three of  the four anti-trapping bills that were defeated aimed to restrict the use of snares. House Bill 1175 would have made it illegal to trap any game animal with a snare with a circumference larger than 12 inches. House Bill 1176 would have made it illegal to trap any game animal with a snare, regardless of size. Senate Bill 492 would have made it illegal to trap any game animal east of Interstate 95 during deer hunting season. The last bill, House Bill 725, would have made it illegal to trap with any size steel-jawed trap. Thanks to a coordinated effort from the Virginia sportsmen’s community, none of these bills advanced to the Governor’s desk ensuring that  modern restraining animal traps will continue to be legal in the Commonwealth.

Last, while the bill to ban predator hunting tournaments never made it out of Committee, the bill was introduced following a similar regulatory proposal last year that failed to move forward. The sportsmen’s community strongly opposed House Bill 1247 this session and will likely need to keep an eye out for similar bills in future legislative sessions as anti-sportsmen’s groups have this issue in their sights.

Along with numerous in-state and national partners, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation was heavily involved in the Sunday hunting effort as well as the work to defeat the anti-sportsmen’s bills. The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation will continue to work on behalf of Virginia’s 1,068,000 sportsmen and women to ensure that hunting, trapping, and other outdoor sporting traditions will carry on in the Commonwealth.

 

MAPLand Act Signed into Law, Securing Access Victory for Sportsmen and Women

Posted on Monday, May 02, 2022

  • Last week, President Biden signed into law H.R. 3113, the Modernizing Access to Our Public Land (MAPLand) Act, a direct result of efforts by the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation.
  • H.R. 3113, the MAPLand Act, was introduced in a bipartisan fashion by Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) Member Rep. Blake Moore (UT) and Reps. Russ Fulcher (ID), Joe Neguse (CO), and Kim Schrier (WA).
  • The Senate companion bill, S. 904, was introduced and championed by CSC past Co-Chair Sen. Jim Risch (ID), CSC Leaders Sen. Heinrich and Manchin.
  • The MAPLand Act will help provide more certainty and access to critical public land information for America’s 55 million sportsmen and women and other outdoor recreationalists.

Why it matters:  Digital mapping and GPS technologies have fundamentally changed how sportsmen and women traverse federal lands. However, inconsistent, and outdated record keeping practices amongst federal land management agencies hinders the ability of sportsmen and women to fully take advantage of these technologies, which will be addressed in part by the MAPLand Act. The enactment of the MAPLand Act is a significant win for America’s sportsmen and women.

On Friday, April 29, President Biden signed the Modernizing Access to Our Public Land Act into law, delivering another victory to the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF).

Over the last few years, CSF and partners such as the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership have been urging Congress to passage the MAPLand Act to increase access opportunities for sportsmen and women. As a result of these efforts by CSF, the MAPLand Act passed the House on an overwhelming vote of 414 – 9 in late March, and in early April, the Senate cleared the bill unanimously.

GPS and other digital mapping technologies have provided sportsmen and women the opportunity to better plan and map out their hunting, fishing, trapping, and recreational shooting trips on public lands and water. However, inconsistent mapping information, unclear information, and the lack of easily accessible public land mapping information can make it difficult for sportsmen and women to fully utilize these GPS technologies. Fortunately, the MAPLand Act will help resolve this issue to make public land mapping information more accessible for sportsmen and women.

The MAPLand Act authorizes much needed financial resources over three years for the Secretaries of the Interior, Agriculture, and Army to accelerate the modernization and digitization of public land mapping information. The MAPLand Act also requires that public land management agencies make their information publicly available on their respective websites to be easily accessible by the public.

Now that the MAPLand Act has been signed into law, CSF and partners are working to secure appropriated funding for the law to ensure the goals of the legislation are carried out in a timely manner.

 

Taking Pride in Our Passion: The Importance of Showing Support for Sportsmen and Women

Posted on Monday, April 25, 2022

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

  • While state agencies and conservation NGOs invest heavily in hunting and angling recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) efforts, sportsmen and women themselves can play a critical role in promoting our time-honored outdoor traditions.
  • Recognizing the role of sportsmen and women as the original conservationists, it is clear that there is much for us to celebrate.
  • By highlighting our support for the activities that we hold so dear, along with the accomplishments achieved because of these activities, sportsmen and women are well-positioned to defend against threats to our time-honored traditions.

Why it matters: As the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) continues to work hard in support of our mission to “work with Congress, Governors, and state legislatures to protect and advance hunting, angling, recreational shooting, and trapping,” we continue to recognize the importance of engaging not only with elected officials, but with members of the sporting community that we work to support. Engagement from the community, whether in-person, online, or as a member of one of the many important organizations that exist, is critical to our ability to continue to support the activities that each of us hold dear.

On April 25th, members of the Kansas Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus and the Kansas sportsmen’s community gathered for a Camo Day at the Capitol. The day’s activities marked one of several such celebrations held by the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation and other sporting-conservation NGO’s around the country in 2022. These events are designed as an opportunity for the sportsmen’s community to band together and highlight our support for the activities that each of us hold dear, but, as I have been asked in the past, why do we need to celebrate these activities?

To answer this, you first need to look at the history of sportsmen and women, or as we like to refer to them, the original conservationists. Ours is a story in which every hunter, angler, target shooter, and trapper should take considerable pride. If not for the vision of the sportsmen’s community, many of these activities that we each enjoy today may not have been possible. Be it through supporting the development of the first state fish and wildlife management agencies to creating the American System of Conservation Funding, in which our community directly supports these agencies, it is clear that sportsmen are consistently among the first to step up in support of conservation.

Despite these ongoing contributions, there are some who continue to conjure negative images about our pastimes, including false attacks that liken hunters to poachers, in an effort to undermine our rights. Recognizing this, it is important for all sportsmen and women to be informed, get engaged, and step up as an ambassador for our time-honored traditions. In doing so, we can reclaim the narrative and continue to promote our role as the original conservationists.

 

Funding for Louisiana Outdoors Forever Program Still in Play

Posted on Monday, April 25, 2022

Contact: Mark Lance, Southeastern States Coordinator

  • Earlier this year, National Assembly of Sportsmen’s Caucuses Executive Council Member and Louisiana Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus (Caucus) Member Representative Jerome Zeringue introduced an appropriations bill, House Bill 406, that includes a $10 million appropriation from the State General Fund to the Louisiana Outdoors Forever Fund.
  • The Louisiana Outdoors Forever Fund would be the financial arm of the Louisiana Outdoors Forever Program (Program) and serve as a dedicated source of conservation funding for critical conservation projects in Louisiana.
  • On April 21, the Louisiana House of Representatives passed HB 406 by an overwhelming vote of 95-1, keeping funding for the Program in play.

Why It Matters: States without a dedicated conservation funding mechanism, like Louisiana, often leave millions of dollars on the table because they cannot provide the match funding to qualify for federal conservation programs. However, if Louisiana established a dedicated conservation funding source, the state could leverage significantly more federal funds to implement conservation programs that benefit fish and wildlife resources and the sportsmen and women who enjoy the “Sportsman’s Paradise.”

Earlier this year, National Assembly of Sportsmen’s Caucuses Executive Council Member and Louisiana Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus (Caucus) Member Representative Jerome Zeringue introduced an appropriations bill, House Bill 406, that includes a $10 million appropriation from the State General Fund to the Louisiana Outdoors Forever Fund. The $10 million appropriation is not only contingent on the passage of HB 406, but also the passage of HB 762, which would create the Program. Funding for projects under the Program would be determined by a project selection board. Counties, municipalities, state agencies, and nongovernmental entities would apply to the Board detailing the proposed project and how much funding would be required. Once projects are identified and approved, funding would then be made available through the Louisiana Outdoors Forever Fund.

Projects that would improve fish and wildlife habitat, water quality, and recreational properties important for public access, including hunting and fishing, would be eligible to receive funding through the Program.

Investing in conservation is important for supporting Louisiana’s outdoor heritage. Last year, Louisiana’s sportsmen and women contributed $43.21 million to conservation funding through hunting and fishing license and excise taxes on sporting related goods. This “user pays – public benefits” structure known as the American System of Conservation Funding is the primary driver of conservation dollars in the state. The LA Outdoors Forever Program and the LA Outdoors Forever Fund would provide additional funding available for federal match dollars through the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Acts that match state dollars at a 3:1 ratio. Louisiana could also leverage funds for habitat work through Farm Bill programs which provide $6 billion annually for conservation on private lands across the United States.

HB 406 now awaits referral in the Senate, and HB 762 awaits action in the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Environment.

The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation will continue to work with the Caucus, as well as in-state and national partners to support the establishment of the Louisiana Outdoors Forever Program and the Louisiana Outdoors Forever Fund.

Policy Corner Brief: MAY 2022 This article is published in the issue.
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Policy Corner Brief: MAY 2022

Pro-Sportsmen Bills Signed into Law in Georgia

Posted on Monday, May 16, 2022

Contact: Mark Lance, Southeastern States Coordinator

  • On May 10, Governors Sportsmen’s Caucus (GSC) Member Governor Brian Kemp signed multiple pro-sportsmen bills into law. All of the bills were sponsored by members of the Georgia Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus (Caucus).
  • House Bill 1349 (HB 1349) extends the baseline date for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) No-Net-Loss statute to protect acreage available for hunting opportunities on DNR managed state-owned lands.
  • House Bill 1148 (HB 1148) co-sponsored by Caucus Co-Chair Representative David Knight, strengthens Georgia’s Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) prevention strategy by prohibiting the importation and possession of certain Cervidae (deer family) carcasses or parts from out-of-state.
  • House Bill 1147 (HB 1147) allows for the trapping, on private land, and hunting of raccoons and opossums year-round in Georgia.

Why it Matters: The signing of these pro-sportsmen bills into law protect and advance hunting opportunities for sportsmen and women in the Peach State. In 2021 alone, the sporting commmunity contributed over $64 million to conservation funding through the “user pays—public benefits” structure known as the American System of Conservation Funding.

With the passage of HB 1349, Georgia updates their No-Net-Loss legislation, which limits the loss of access to hunting opportunity by establishing a minimum acreage of state-owned areas open to sportsmen and women. Georgia’s previous accounting from 2005, which protected 300,000 acres for hunting access, will be updated to reflect the more than 200,000 acres which have become part of the public trust over the past 17 years. This helps ensure that future generations of Georgians will have similar access to hunting opportunities tomorrow that exist today.

Additionally, Georgia is proactive in their fight to keep Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) from being introduced into the state through the passage of HB 1148. CWD is a progressive, fatal, degenerative neurological disease that occurs in farmed and free-ranging deer, and has been confirmed in neighboring Alabama, North Carolina, and Tennessee. The importation and possession of certain Cervidae carcasses or parts from outside of the state, except for deboned meat, antlers, skulls, skull plates, teeth, or jawbones with no soft tissue attached, hides with no heads attached, and finished taxidermy, will be prohibited.

Racoons and opossums are notorious for negatively impacting ground nesting bird populations such as turkey and quail. With HB 1147’s passage, it will not only allows for increased hunting and trapping opportunities throughout the year, but the passed legislation will also aid in further managing highly successful nest predator populations.

The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation applauds Governor Kemp and the Caucus for their continued support of Georgia’s rich sporting heritage through the passage of these bills.

 

Firearm and Ammunition Tax Bill Resurfaces in the California Legislature

Posted on Monday, May 16, 2022

Contact: Keely Hopkins, Manager, Pacific Region

  • Despite being defeated on the floor in 2021 and failing to advance ahead of the legislative cutoff deadline earlier this year, proponents of AB 1223 have once again utilized procedural maneuvers to resurface their proposal to impose a 10-11% tax on all firearm and ammunition sales in the state.
  • Using a “gut and amend” tactic earlier this month, proponents stripped language from AB 1227, originally introduced as a solar energy efficiency bill, and instead replaced it with the same language as the previously defeated AB 1223.
  • The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) has been working with national and in-state coalition partners in opposition to this bill since its introduction in 2021 and will continue to oppose this misguided policy that is now in the form of AB 1227.

Why It Matters: California’s law-abiding hunters and recreational shooters have long played a vital role in funding conservation and wildlife management efforts throughout the state. Under the American System of Conservation Funding (ASCF), a unique “user pays — public benefits” structure, California’s sportsmen and women generate tens of millions of dollars each year for the California Department of Fish & Wildlife. These funds are generated through license sales and an 11% federal excise tax on sporting-related goods, including firearms and ammunition. Decreased firearm and ammunition purchases that result from additional taxes and costs would have a negative impact on conservation funding in the state.  

After being defeated in 2021 and failing to meet legislative cutoff deadlines earlier this year, the proposed tax on firearm and ammunition purchases has once again resurfaced in the California legislature in the form of Assembly Bill 1227. Utilizing “gut and amend” tactics, proponents stripped the language from AB 1227, which was originally introduced as a solar energy efficiency bill, and instead replaced it with the language from the defeated AB 1223 that seeks to impose a 10-11% tax on all firearm and ammunition purchases in the state.

AB 1223 was introduced during the 2021 legislative session and was allegedly designed to “mirror” the federal excise tax paid by sportsmen and women to fund conservation efforts via the Pittman-Robertson Act. The revenue in this case, however, would not be used to fund conservation and would instead go to a program that aids the effects of illegal criminal activity. This bill was defeated on the floor during the 2021 session, however proponents used procedural maneuvers to add an “urgency clause” to the legislation, which exempted the bill from regular deadlines and rules and allowed the bill to be to be carried over to the 2022 session. Having not received a floor vote by the January 31, 2022, deadline, the proposal should have been defeated for the biennial session, yet proponents have once again maneuvered their proposal forward by commandeering AB 1227.

Each year, California’s sportsmen and women contribute tens of millions of dollars to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, providing vital revenue to help carry out their mission of managing the state’s diverse fish and wildlife, and the habitats upon which they depend. These funds are generated through fishing and hunting license sales, and through the purchase of sporting-related goods. Under the Pittman-Robertson Act, California’s hunters and recreational shooters pay a 10-11% excise tax on all firearm and ammunition purchases, which in turn funds a large portion of the state’s wildlife management, conservation, and research efforts. AB 1227, if passed, would place an additional tax on top of the existing taxes, thereby driving up the costs of these goods, reducing their sales, and in turn, reducing the conservation funding from which all California residents enjoy.

The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) has been opposed to the proposed tax from its introduction, testifying before both Assembly committees and joining coalition partners in submitting several opposition letters. CSF will continue to work with partners in opposition to AB 1227 and encourages all California residents to contact their state Senator and urge them to vote “No” on this bill should it make its way to the Senate floor. CSF will continue to keep you updated on the status of the legislation.

 

Senate Committee Unanimously Passes America’s Outdoor Recreation Act, Top CSF Priority

Posted on Monday, May 09, 2022

  • Last week, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources voted to unanimously pass America’s Outdoor Recreation Act (S. 3266), a bill strongly supported by the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF).
  • The America’s Outdoor Recreation Act is a bipartisan bill led by Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) Vice Chair Senator Joe Manchin (WV) and CSC Member John Barrasso (WY), who respectively serve as the Chair and Ranking Member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
  • In December, CSF submitted a statement for the record in strong support of the Outdoor Recreation Act, and in advance of the vote last week, urged CSC Members on the Committee to vote favorably on the bill.

Why it matters: Our nation’s vast network of federal public lands and water provide significant recreational opportunities for America’s sportsmen and women. The Outdoor Recreation Act recognizes the importance of federal public lands for sportsmen and women by seeking to increase public access, modernize public land visitation data, and conserve important water systems for anglers and boaters.

On Tuesday, May 3, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee passed the CSF supported America’s Outdoor Recreation Act of 2022 on a unanimous vote, a sign of the widespread for this legislation.

After years of coordination with the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, the America’s Outdoor Recreation Act includes language that requires the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management to ensure that each of their respective districts has at least one public target shooting range. Not only does this provision recognize CSF’s efforts to promote recreational shooting, but it also recognizes the important role played by America’s 32 million recreational target shooters who are the backbone of state wildlife conservation funding.

The America’s Outdoor Recreation Act will also provide assistance to federal agencies to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species, which pose a serious threat to native aquatic ecosystems and the economy. Once established, aquatic invasive species are difficult, if not impossible, to eradicate, and significant resources must be invested annually on population management. Preventing harmful introductions before they occur is the most effective means to avoid the risk aquatic nuisance species present. For example, Zebra mussels alone cause $300–$500 million annually in damages to power plants, water systems, and industrial water intakes in the Great Lakes Region.

Furthermore, this legislation includes language that will help improve future federal land agency planning decisions and would enhance user planning efforts for the general public. Specifically, the Improved Recreation Visitation Data section directs certain federal land management agencies to capture various recreation visitation data. This section also establishes a real-time data pilot program to make available to the public real-time or predictive visitation data for federal lands, helping sportsmen and women with their trip planning efforts.

The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation applauds CSC Vice Chair Sen. Manchin and CSC Member Sen. Barrasso for leading the America’s Outdoor Recreation Act and applauds the Energy and Natural Resources Committee for recognizing the importance of this bill with a unanimous vote.

 

Looking Back on a Busy Legislative Session for Sportsmen’s Issues

Posted on Monday, May 09, 2022

Contact: John Culclasure, Southeastern States Director

Why It Matters: The passage of the Sunday hunting legislation is a huge win for the Virginia sportsmen’s community, working with the Virginia Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus, to provide seven-day access on more than 2 million acres of public land. The defeat of the anti-trapping bills and the predator hunting tournament ban bill are significant as well but represent a trend of increasing anti-sportsmen’s legislation in Virginia. The takeaway is that the sportsmen’s community can be effective in influencing policy but needs to remain vigilant to protect sporting traditions in the Commonwealth.

While the Virginia General Assembly wrapped up the 2022 regular session earlier this spring, this is a good time to reflect on the session and what it means for hunters and anglers in the Commonwealth.

Notably, marking the culmination of a multi-year effort, public lands Sunday hunting legislation was signed into law. Senate Bill 8, sponsored by Senator Chap Petersen, was the fourth public lands Sunday hunting bill introduced in the three years. After introducing full repeal public lands Sunday hunting bills in the last two sessions, Virginia Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chair Delegate James Edmunds introduced a scaled-back Sunday hunting bill (House Bill 111) that would have only allowed seven-day hunting on Wildlife Management Areas. Ironically, that bill failed to advance, but the full repeal public lands Sunday hunting bill, Senate Bill 8, made it over the finish line thanks to coordinated support from the sportsmen’s community.

Three of  the four anti-trapping bills that were defeated aimed to restrict the use of snares. House Bill 1175 would have made it illegal to trap any game animal with a snare with a circumference larger than 12 inches. House Bill 1176 would have made it illegal to trap any game animal with a snare, regardless of size. Senate Bill 492 would have made it illegal to trap any game animal east of Interstate 95 during deer hunting season. The last bill, House Bill 725, would have made it illegal to trap with any size steel-jawed trap. Thanks to a coordinated effort from the Virginia sportsmen’s community, none of these bills advanced to the Governor’s desk ensuring that  modern restraining animal traps will continue to be legal in the Commonwealth.

Last, while the bill to ban predator hunting tournaments never made it out of Committee, the bill was introduced following a similar regulatory proposal last year that failed to move forward. The sportsmen’s community strongly opposed House Bill 1247 this session and will likely need to keep an eye out for similar bills in future legislative sessions as anti-sportsmen’s groups have this issue in their sights.

Along with numerous in-state and national partners, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation was heavily involved in the Sunday hunting effort as well as the work to defeat the anti-sportsmen’s bills. The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation will continue to work on behalf of Virginia’s 1,068,000 sportsmen and women to ensure that hunting, trapping, and other outdoor sporting traditions will carry on in the Commonwealth.

 

MAPLand Act Signed into Law, Securing Access Victory for Sportsmen and Women

Posted on Monday, May 02, 2022

  • Last week, President Biden signed into law H.R. 3113, the Modernizing Access to Our Public Land (MAPLand) Act, a direct result of efforts by the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation.
  • H.R. 3113, the MAPLand Act, was introduced in a bipartisan fashion by Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) Member Rep. Blake Moore (UT) and Reps. Russ Fulcher (ID), Joe Neguse (CO), and Kim Schrier (WA).
  • The Senate companion bill, S. 904, was introduced and championed by CSC past Co-Chair Sen. Jim Risch (ID), CSC Leaders Sen. Heinrich and Manchin.
  • The MAPLand Act will help provide more certainty and access to critical public land information for America’s 55 million sportsmen and women and other outdoor recreationalists.

Why it matters:  Digital mapping and GPS technologies have fundamentally changed how sportsmen and women traverse federal lands. However, inconsistent, and outdated record keeping practices amongst federal land management agencies hinders the ability of sportsmen and women to fully take advantage of these technologies, which will be addressed in part by the MAPLand Act. The enactment of the MAPLand Act is a significant win for America’s sportsmen and women.

On Friday, April 29, President Biden signed the Modernizing Access to Our Public Land Act into law, delivering another victory to the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF).

Over the last few years, CSF and partners such as the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership have been urging Congress to passage the MAPLand Act to increase access opportunities for sportsmen and women. As a result of these efforts by CSF, the MAPLand Act passed the House on an overwhelming vote of 414 – 9 in late March, and in early April, the Senate cleared the bill unanimously.

GPS and other digital mapping technologies have provided sportsmen and women the opportunity to better plan and map out their hunting, fishing, trapping, and recreational shooting trips on public lands and water. However, inconsistent mapping information, unclear information, and the lack of easily accessible public land mapping information can make it difficult for sportsmen and women to fully utilize these GPS technologies. Fortunately, the MAPLand Act will help resolve this issue to make public land mapping information more accessible for sportsmen and women.

The MAPLand Act authorizes much needed financial resources over three years for the Secretaries of the Interior, Agriculture, and Army to accelerate the modernization and digitization of public land mapping information. The MAPLand Act also requires that public land management agencies make their information publicly available on their respective websites to be easily accessible by the public.

Now that the MAPLand Act has been signed into law, CSF and partners are working to secure appropriated funding for the law to ensure the goals of the legislation are carried out in a timely manner.

 

Taking Pride in Our Passion: The Importance of Showing Support for Sportsmen and Women

Posted on Monday, April 25, 2022

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

  • While state agencies and conservation NGOs invest heavily in hunting and angling recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) efforts, sportsmen and women themselves can play a critical role in promoting our time-honored outdoor traditions.
  • Recognizing the role of sportsmen and women as the original conservationists, it is clear that there is much for us to celebrate.
  • By highlighting our support for the activities that we hold so dear, along with the accomplishments achieved because of these activities, sportsmen and women are well-positioned to defend against threats to our time-honored traditions.

Why it matters: As the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) continues to work hard in support of our mission to “work with Congress, Governors, and state legislatures to protect and advance hunting, angling, recreational shooting, and trapping,” we continue to recognize the importance of engaging not only with elected officials, but with members of the sporting community that we work to support. Engagement from the community, whether in-person, online, or as a member of one of the many important organizations that exist, is critical to our ability to continue to support the activities that each of us hold dear.

On April 25th, members of the Kansas Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus and the Kansas sportsmen’s community gathered for a Camo Day at the Capitol. The day’s activities marked one of several such celebrations held by the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation and other sporting-conservation NGO’s around the country in 2022. These events are designed as an opportunity for the sportsmen’s community to band together and highlight our support for the activities that each of us hold dear, but, as I have been asked in the past, why do we need to celebrate these activities?

To answer this, you first need to look at the history of sportsmen and women, or as we like to refer to them, the original conservationists. Ours is a story in which every hunter, angler, target shooter, and trapper should take considerable pride. If not for the vision of the sportsmen’s community, many of these activities that we each enjoy today may not have been possible. Be it through supporting the development of the first state fish and wildlife management agencies to creating the American System of Conservation Funding, in which our community directly supports these agencies, it is clear that sportsmen are consistently among the first to step up in support of conservation.

Despite these ongoing contributions, there are some who continue to conjure negative images about our pastimes, including false attacks that liken hunters to poachers, in an effort to undermine our rights. Recognizing this, it is important for all sportsmen and women to be informed, get engaged, and step up as an ambassador for our time-honored traditions. In doing so, we can reclaim the narrative and continue to promote our role as the original conservationists.

 

Funding for Louisiana Outdoors Forever Program Still in Play

Posted on Monday, April 25, 2022

Contact: Mark Lance, Southeastern States Coordinator

  • Earlier this year, National Assembly of Sportsmen’s Caucuses Executive Council Member and Louisiana Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus (Caucus) Member Representative Jerome Zeringue introduced an appropriations bill, House Bill 406, that includes a $10 million appropriation from the State General Fund to the Louisiana Outdoors Forever Fund.
  • The Louisiana Outdoors Forever Fund would be the financial arm of the Louisiana Outdoors Forever Program (Program) and serve as a dedicated source of conservation funding for critical conservation projects in Louisiana.
  • On April 21, the Louisiana House of Representatives passed HB 406 by an overwhelming vote of 95-1, keeping funding for the Program in play.

Why It Matters: States without a dedicated conservation funding mechanism, like Louisiana, often leave millions of dollars on the table because they cannot provide the match funding to qualify for federal conservation programs. However, if Louisiana established a dedicated conservation funding source, the state could leverage significantly more federal funds to implement conservation programs that benefit fish and wildlife resources and the sportsmen and women who enjoy the “Sportsman’s Paradise.”

Earlier this year, National Assembly of Sportsmen’s Caucuses Executive Council Member and Louisiana Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus (Caucus) Member Representative Jerome Zeringue introduced an appropriations bill, House Bill 406, that includes a $10 million appropriation from the State General Fund to the Louisiana Outdoors Forever Fund. The $10 million appropriation is not only contingent on the passage of HB 406, but also the passage of HB 762, which would create the Program. Funding for projects under the Program would be determined by a project selection board. Counties, municipalities, state agencies, and nongovernmental entities would apply to the Board detailing the proposed project and how much funding would be required. Once projects are identified and approved, funding would then be made available through the Louisiana Outdoors Forever Fund.

Projects that would improve fish and wildlife habitat, water quality, and recreational properties important for public access, including hunting and fishing, would be eligible to receive funding through the Program.

Investing in conservation is important for supporting Louisiana’s outdoor heritage. Last year, Louisiana’s sportsmen and women contributed $43.21 million to conservation funding through hunting and fishing license and excise taxes on sporting related goods. This “user pays – public benefits” structure known as the American System of Conservation Funding is the primary driver of conservation dollars in the state. The LA Outdoors Forever Program and the LA Outdoors Forever Fund would provide additional funding available for federal match dollars through the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Acts that match state dollars at a 3:1 ratio. Louisiana could also leverage funds for habitat work through Farm Bill programs which provide $6 billion annually for conservation on private lands across the United States.

HB 406 now awaits referral in the Senate, and HB 762 awaits action in the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Environment.

The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation will continue to work with the Caucus, as well as in-state and national partners to support the establishment of the Louisiana Outdoors Forever Program and the Louisiana Outdoors Forever Fund.

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