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 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.
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.