Why It Matters: Throughout any given legislative session, bill proposals run the gamut of issues relevant to hunters, anglers, recreational shooters, and trappers. The prevailing impacts of such legislation often relate to conservation funding. The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) is committed to identifying legislation that either advances or detracts from conservation funding and advocating accordingly.
- Earlier this month, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation weighed in on a bevy of bill proposals before committees of the Illinois House of Representatives.
- Three of these bills involved impacts to the American System of Conservation Funding (ASCF), which underlies the success of science-based decision-making by state fish and wildlife management agencies throughout the country.
- CSF will continue to identify legislation with conservation impacts around the Great Lakes region and inform legislators of potential consequences so that they may support, oppose, or amend bills to protect our time-honored traditions.
The month of March saw a spattering of bills heard in various committees in the Illinois House of Representatives that are relevant to sportsmen and women. An important consequence of any bill with an impact on hunting, fishing, recreational shooting, or trapping is how the legislation affects conservation funding. CSF recently engaged on multiple Illinois bills with likely conservation funding impacts, many of which are summarized below.
CSF submitted testimony in support of HB 2317 – an angler recruitment, retention, and reactivation bill – that passed out of committee and now awaits a vote by the House Chamber. The bill would allow for a one-time purchase of a “First-Time Fishing License” for beginning or lapsed anglers aged sixteen and over that have not purchased an Illinois fishing license in ten years or more. By encouraging these anglers to enjoy Illinois’ waters by lowering the cost of participation, this bill would allow the Illinois DNR to tap into a demographic that doesn’t currently contribute through the ASCF.
Conversely, CSF submitted testimony recommending amendments to a pair of bills, HB 1151 and HB 3677, both of which threaten to decrease the ASCF revenue realized by the Illinois DNR in their current form. CSF’s testimony on HB 1151, which would issue free hunting licenses to non-resident landowners owning 40 acres or more of land, emphasized the ASCF implications of free licenses. To receive federal funds under the Pittman-Robertson Act for a license issued by the state fish and wildlife management agency, the agency must collect revenue from the sale of that license. CSF recommended that to provide the legislature’s intended benefits to non-resident landowners while safeguarding conservation funding, the bill should be amended to reimburse the DNR from the state’s General Fund for revenue lost by the issuance of a free license.
CSF offered similar amendment recommendations for HB 3677, which would create five-year hunting and fishing licenses that could be purchased at a discounted rate. Providing reimbursement to state fish and wildlife agencies for free and discounted licenses safeguards the ability of those agencies to benefit from the funding opportunities available to them, while simultaneously providing benefits to the many sportsmen and women that pursue the many fish and wildlife populations that the agency manages.
The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation will continue to identify bills of consequence to sportsmen and women like the funding bills described above and inform legislators of their potential impacts.