Why It Matters: Extending the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission’s (PFBC) ability to set license fees through the regulatory process affords it the opportunity to make smaller adjustments over a gradual period, thereby avoiding the sticker shock that is often associated when increases are made through one legislative effort. In 2022, Pennsylvania had 1,146,972 certified paid fishing license holders, and avoiding significant, single-instance price alterations by allowing the PFBC to make multiple minor modifications will aid in angler recruitment, retention, reactivation. The ability to react in real-time and set prices through the regulatory process is likewise beneficial in the development of reduced-price and incentive-based license structures aimed at improving angler participation, thereby recruiting and retaining anglers and increasing conservation funding through the American System of Conservation Funding in the long run. The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) has long advocated for the PFBC’s ability to set license, permit, and tag fees.
- On June 28, the Pennsylvania House Game and Fisheries Committee convened for a discussion on H. 1409 – legislation introduced and sponsored by members of the Pennsylvania Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus that would extend the PFBC’s license fee-setting authority until 2035, thereby extending this power for more than a decade.
- CSF submitted a letter of support to the Committee, highlighting the historic effort undertaken to provide the PFBC with this power and the need for state agencies to be able to react to changed market conditions in real-time.
- Following remarks from Committee members stating the incredible work that the PFBC has been accomplishing for Pennsylvania’s anglers and boating enthusiasts, H. 1409 passed by a unanimous vote (21-0).
On June 28, the Pennsylvania House Game and Fisheries Committee gathered for a hearing on H. 1409. Introduced and sponsored by members of the Pennsylvania Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus, this bill would extend the sunset on the PFBC’s license-setting authority from 2025 to 2035. CSF submitted testimony to the Committee in support of this bill, recognizing the fantastic job that the PFBC has done with enacting rules and regulations that promote healthy populations of fish while providing sustainable access for hunters and anglers. Ultimately, the Committee voted in unanimous support (21-0) to pass this legislation. It has since been referred to the House Rules Committee.
As was mentioned in CSF’s testimony, this legislative delegation of license setting authority to the PFBC is not a new concept in the Keystone State. In 2020, members of the Pennsylvania Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus co-sponsored House Bill 808, which ultimately became law and granted the PFBC with the regulatory authority to set license, permit, and tag fees. The PFBC has been able to set prices that are reflective of the current costs of the goods and services necessary to deliver the important fisheries conservation work of the agency while remaining flexible in reacting to changed or unanticipated market conditions (i.e., the recent COVID-19 pandemic) and adjust prices accordingly to ensure participation remains strong. Additionally, the PFBC has previously committed to only carrying out incremental increases that will support the agency’s budget while holding down costs for anglers and boaters – a commitment that it has remained true to, and CSF has supported over the past three years.
CSF applauds the Pennsylvania House Game and Fisheries Committee for its unwavering support for the PFBC’s license fee-setting authority and will continue to engage on this bill throughout the legislative process. Additional updates will be provided as they are made available.