January 22, 2024

Bill to Safeguard MDWFP Funding Brought Back to the Table

Article Contact: Mark Lance,

Why It Matters: Every year bills are introduced that would allow individuals to purchase a free or heavily discounted hunting and/or fishing license. Legislators tend to target deserving groups, such as first responders or veterans. However, if passed, these bills could have a significant impact on conservation funding for their respective state’s fish and wildlife agency. That is where legislation that reimburses the state fish and wildlife agency for revenue lost due to the passage and creation of free and discounted hunting licenses comes into play to protect conservation funding.


  • On January 18, the National Assembly of Sportsmen’s Caucuses (NASC) Executive Council Member and Mississippi Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus (Caucus) Co-Chair Representative Scott Bounds filed HB 300.
  • This legislation is identical to HB 1012 from the 2023 session and would require that the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks (MDWFP) be reimbursed for any lost revenue resulting from the issuance of free or discounted hunting and fishing licenses, admission to state parks, and other fees through the State General Fund.
  • No free or discounted licenses on the books prior to the date this bill would be affected.

The MDWFP’s mission is to conserve and enhance Mississippi’s wildlife, fisheries, and parks, provide quality outdoor recreation, and engage the public in natural resource conservation. HB 300 would assist in ensuring that MDWFP continues to receive the necessary funding to continue to work towards accomplishing its mission.

While certain groups do deserve recognition for their contributions to society, there are alternate methods of recognizing them, such as providing tax credits for the purchasing of hunting and fishing licenses, rather than negatively impacting the entity charged with conserving a public trust resource. In addition to the hit on initial revenue from license sales, states that distribute free and discounted licenses are losing funds that would be apportioned through Pittman-Robertson and Dingell-Johnson/Wallop-Breaux. If passed, this legislation would bring Mississippi alongside Michigan, New Jersey, and Tennessee where state fish and wildlife agency funding is protected from impacts resulting from the passage of free or discounted licenses.

Sportsmen and women in Mississippi contributed over $30 million annually to conservation funding through the “user pays — public benefits” structure known as the American System of Conservation Funding (ASCF). Revenue generated from the purchase of hunting and fishing licenses is instrumental to the success of the ASCF.

The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) looks forward to continuing to work alongside Representative Bounds and the Caucus to move this initiative forward.

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