Why It Matters: HB 999 would establish a dedicated source of revenue for the Fund by dedicating sales tax on outdoor gear under the North American Industry Classification System Tax Code Section 451110. This added security in funding through 2025 would enhance the Fund’s capability to contribute to projects benefiting fish and wildlife, their habitats, and opportunities for sportsmen and women without the cloud of yearly appropriations hanging over it.
- HB 999, is a critically important conservation funding bill that is being championed by Mississippi Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus (Caucus) Member Representative Bill Kinkade.
- This bill would deposit a portion of sales tax revenue on certain sporting goods into the Mississippi Outdoor Stewardship Trust Fund (Fund).
- HB 999 is presently in the Senate Finance Committee, where it is expected to be calendared for a hearing in the near future.
- The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) recently submitted a letter in strong support of HB 999, which previously passed the House on a strong bipartisan vote of 106-7.
CSF applauded the passage of HB 606 last year, which established the Fund, and the subsequent $10 million appropriation that was made by the legislature that provided invaluable seed money for the Fund to have the capacity to assist in conservation projects. The establishment of the Mississippi Trust Fund has been a priority of the Caucus for many years. The Fund was the topic of interest at the Caucus’ 2021 Sporting Clays Classic and the Annual Caucus Fish Fry in 2022.
CSF’s letter stated, “By dedicating a percentage of the existing sales tax on sporting goods to conservation funding, the Trust Fund can improve its capability to capitalize on matching private conservation dollars as well as federal funds through various fish, wildlife, and natural resources conservation programs. This added security in funding would allow the Trust Fund to continue to work towards fulfilling its mission to improve wildlife habitat, enhance access to public lands, restore wetlands and improve water quality, support fish and wildlife conservation on working forests and farms, and promote hunting, fishing, recreational shooting, and other forms of outdoor recreation without the funding uncertainty that the Trust Fund currently faces through the annual appropriation process.”
The approach to redirect revenue generated from pre-existing sales tax would mirror similar steps taken in years past to establish the Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Fund which now generates upwards of $20 million per year for conservation projects.
CSF will continue to work alongside our in-state partners and the Caucus to establish a dedicated source of conservation funding in Mississippi to complement the “user pays – public benefits” structure of the American System of Conservation Funding.