March 16, 2017

Idaho: License Fee Bill Clears Committee, Awaits Full Senate Vote

On March 13, the Idaho Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources voted to pass House Bill 230 to the Senate floor with a “Do Pass” recommendation, several days after the bill passed the Idaho House of Representatives.

The bill, sponsored by the Idaho House Health and Welfare Committee, would raise fees for general hunting and fishing licenses as well as tags, and provide additional funding for depredation and sportsmen’s access programs. Idaho Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chair Senator Lee Heider moved to pass the bill with a “Do Pass” recommendation, and was seconded in this motion by Idaho Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chair Senator Michelle Stennett. Senators Heider and Stennett will co-sponsor the bill, with Senator Steve Bair carrying HB 230 on the Senate Floor.

This bill would increase the price of most resident general license tags and fees by 20 percent. As noted by Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) Director Virgil Moore, the push for an increase in resident fees is driven largely by inflationary pressures that have increased IDFG’s operational costs by 22 percent since the last fee increase was authorized in 2005. The price lock component of the fee legislation – starting in 2018 – will allow those purchasing resident licenses, tags, and permits to stay at the 2017 price they pay for those items during subsequent years. Those who do not buy resident licenses, tags, and permits in 2017 would pay the increased prices for these items starting in 2018. Additionally, HB 230 would create a new $5 surcharge on resident adult hunting, fishing, and trapping licenses and a $10 surcharge on all such nonresident licenses to provide funding for both wildlife depredation activities and sportsmen’s access programs managed by the IDFG.

Several organizations testified in support of HB 230 during the committee hearing, including the Idaho Sportsmen’s Alliance, Idaho Wildlife Federation, Trout Unlimited, and the Idaho Farm Bureau. Leadership from the Idaho Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus also submitted a letter to the committee in support of HB 230.

Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?

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