August 7, 2023

Five Key Legislative Victories from the Great Lakes Region

Article Contact: Bob Matthews,

Why It Matters: As most state legislatures across the country have adjourned, the tail-end of summer offers a chance to reflect on policy victories in the conservation sphere while looking forward to securing more victories in remaining states that meet year-round.

  • In the Great Lakes region, state legislatures in Illinois, Indiana, and Minnesota have adjourned for the year (although Illinois often reconvenes for a few weeks at the end of the year).
  • The state legislatures in Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin meet year-round. After working on budget negotiations in the first half of the year, legislators often take a break during the end of summer to return to their home districts and prepare for the last few months of the legislative session.
  • In 2023, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) has worked closely in the Great Lakes States to secure policy victories that benefit hunters, anglers, recreational shooters, and trappers; as well as our fish and wildlife resources, and their habitats.

With state legislatures either adjourned or in recess, August offers an opportunity to look back on the legislative year thus far and celebrate some of the key victories that CSF has helped secure for sportsmen and women in the Great Lakes States:

  • Illinois residents that have not purchased a fishing license in the last ten years may purchase a license at a one-time discounted rate. Because residents do not need to purchase a fishing license until they are 16 years of age, and to ensure that the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (DNR) doesn’t lose any revenue, the discount only applies to residents aged 26 and older. This bill, HB 2317, which was signed by the Governor in June, seeks to tap into a group of non-angling Illinoisans to bolster the DNR’s revenue stream while broadening the state’s fishing community.
  • Sportsmen and women in Illinois may continue to share ammunition while afield or at the shooting range. HB 1057, introduced and considered in the Illinois House of Representatives, would have required that anyone attempting to transfer ammunition to another person holds a Federal Firearm License (FFL). This would have been detrimental to common practices by most hunters and recreational shooters in the state, who would have been unable to share guns and ammunition while enjoying our time-honored outdoor traditions.
  • Michigan sportsmen and women will not need a license to simply possess or share a firearm. As originally written, a package of bills introduced in both the state’s House and Senate would have required that any person in possession of a firearm also carry a license for that firearm, which would have prohibited anyone in the state from simply handing a gun to a friend while afield or at a shooting range. CSF and both in-state and national partners successfully worked diligently to nix that language.
  • In Minnesota, crossbows will be fully incorporated into the state’s archery season. Thanks to language included in the Natural Resource omnibus bill, culminating a multi-year effort by CSF, hunters in the North Star State may now use crossbows to hunt deer, bear, turkey, and rough fish during those species’ respective archery seasons, regardless of age. Expanding crossbow opportunities is designed to bolster recruitment, retention, and reactivation efforts in the state, while simultaneously contributing to Minnesota’s fish and wildlife population management efforts.
  • In Ohio, out-of-state college students will be considered residents for the purpose of purchasing hunting and fishing licenses. Given the costs students incur attending a school outside of their original home state, students are often unable to afford non-resident hunting and angling licenses, resulting in lower participation rates among this key demographic of sportsmen and women. Allowing these students to purchase licenses as if they were residents of the state alleviates this burdensome cost and instead encourages students to participate in the state’s storied outdoor pursuits.

These successes are only a glimpse of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation’s impact in the Great Lakes States – let alone the entire country. In the past five years alone CSF has helped secure more than 1,000 victories for sportsmen and women, our fish and wildlife resources, and their habitats, and we will continue to expand that tally by protecting and advancing pro-conservation legislation in states all across the nation and on Capitol Hill in the months and years ahead.

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