September 24, 2012

Congress Leaves Washington on a Positive Note as Sportsmen’s Legislation Advances

(September 24, 2012) Washington, DC – As Congress leaves Washington to focus on the elections, three vital bipartisan pieces of legislation for sportsmen are advancing on Capitol Hill. The Billfish Conservation Act of 2012 (S.1451), the Sportsmen’s Act of 2012 (S.3525) and a resolution recognizing the 75th Anniversary of the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration (WSFR) programs (H.Res. 801) all saw progress on the eve of Congress’ departure. 

These successful bipartisan efforts are a rarity this Congress as partisanship has been prevalent in both chambers. Members of the bipartisan Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) have made each of these bills a priority and have been actively engaged in moving them in the 112th Congress – and their efforts are paying off. 

During the early morning hours of Saturday, September 22nd, the Billfish Conservation Act (S.1451) passed the Senate and is now heading to President Obama’s desk for his signature. CSC member Senator David Vitter (LA) sponsored the original bill in the Senate, and worked with fellow CSC member Senator Bill Nelson (FL) to get it passed. Identical legislation was passed in the House on September 10, 2012 (H.R. 2706) and was initially introduced by members of the CSC including: Co-Chair Representative Jeff Miller (FL), Co-Chair Representative Mike Ross (AR), Vice-Chair Representative Bob Latta (OH), Vice-Chair Representative Heath Shuler (NC), Representative Rob Wittman (VA), Representative Jeff Duncan (SC), Representative Michael Michaud (ME), Representative Jo Bonner (AL) and Representative Dan Boren (OK). 

For more information on the Billfish Conservation Act of 2012, click here.

Co-Chair Representative Miller praised the efforts by the CSC members on the passage of the Billfish Conservation Act of 2012. “Sportsmen all along the Gulf Coast and throughout the nation reeled in a huge legislative victory with Saturday’s successful passage of the Billfish Conservation Act of 2012. As strong advocates for sportsmen and their rights, I was proud to join forces with fellow Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus member, Senator David Vitter (LA), to achieve this important milestone in preserving our nation’s fishing heritage. Thanks to his efforts and the support we have both received from members throughout the sportsmen’s community, nearly two weeks after its passage through the House, the bill will be sent to the President’s desk.”

CSF President Jeff Crane stated, “This is a major victory for the conservation of billfish populations which could not have been achieved without the hard work and dedication of the bipartisan leaders and members of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus. We thank our representatives in Congress for passing this important piece of pro-sportsmen’s legislation.”

On Saturday, September 22nd, the Sportsmen’s Act of 2012 (S.3525) advanced as the Senate voted 84 to 7 on the motion to proceed for a November vote. Introduced by CSC Co-Chair Senator Jon Tester, the Sportsmen’s Act of 2012, is a package of 19 separate bills including the majority of sportsmen’s legislative priorities in the 112th Congress. (Click here for a full description). In April, the Sportsmen’s Heritage Act of 2012  (H.R. 4089) was passed by the House of Representatives by a bipartisan vote of 276 to 146. If S.3525 is passed in November, it will then move to conference with H.R. 4089, which includes several of the same bills.

Dan Ashe, Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, praised the efforts of the CSC in the passage of the Sportsmen’s Act. “I wanted to say thanks, on behalf of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, for CSC’s work to move this legislation. Saturday’s vote is a reminder of what this community can do when we all work together.”

Eventual passage of this unprecedented pro-sportsmen’s legislation will promote, protect and preserve our nation’s hunting, shooting and conservation heritage for generations to come. CSF will keep you apprised as this process moves forward.

CSF President Jeff Crane stated, “This legislation is undoubtedly the most important pro-sportsmen’s legislation in a generation and is a vital step in protecting our hunting and angling traditions.” 

In recognition of the WSFR program’s 75th Anniversary, CSC members Representatives Don Young (AK) and John Dingell (MI) introduced H.Res. 801, “Recognizing America’s hunters, anglers, trappers, recreational boaters, recreational shooters, industry, state fish and wildlife agencies, and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service for their leading role in restoring healthy populations of fish, wildlife, and other natural resources.” WSFR is a key component of the “user pays-public benefits” structure of the American System of Conservation Funding, which provides the vast majority of funding for state fish and wildlife agencies.

This bipartisan resolution was referred to the Committee on Natural Resources on Thursday, September 20th. Representatives Young and Dingell are currently seeking cosponsors for the resolution. CSF will keep you apprised as this process moves forward. 

“The introduction of this resolution is especially timely considering the recent celebration of National Hunting and Fishing Day on September 22nd,” said CSF President Jeff Crane. “This resolution is an important bipartisan collaboration of the CSC and I thank Representatives Dingell and Young for introducing this resolution.”

Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?

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