March 11, 2024

Minnesota Bill Would Create Discounted Fishing Licenses While Reimbursing the Agency for Lost Revenue

Article Contact: Bob Matthews,

Why It Matters: The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), like all state fish and wildlife management agencies, relies in-part on revenue collected from hunting and fishing license sales. Recently introduced legislation would offer discounted fishing license fees to seniors while balancing this important pillar of conservation funding.


  • Legislators frequently introduce bills that would provide specific groups, including seniors and veterans, discounted licenses to enjoy the many sporting opportunities their state has to offer.
  • Reimbursing the state fish and wildlife agency for the revenue lost from discounted licenses is a sound method of ensuring that deserving groups may receive benefits without decreasing critically important conservation funding.
  • At the state policy level, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) has made implementing these reimbursement structures a point of emphasis in recent years and supports the recent legislative attempt to do so in the North Star State.

Legislation offering reduced license fees to deserving groups such as seniors or veterans is a frequent subject of discussion in this weekly newsletter. While a commendable attempt to encourage more folks from these deserving groups to enjoy our time-honored outdoor traditions, oftentimes such legislation fails to recognize the importance of the revenue generated by the sale of licenses for state-level conservation funding.

Breaking this trend, recently introduced Minnesota House File 3876 follows the framework of Tennessee, New Jersey, and Michigan, and would authorize discounted fishing licenses to seniors while reimbursing from the Minnesota General Fund to the Minnesota Game and Fish Fund the amount of revenue that was not realized following that discount. Through the unique “user pays – public benefits” structure of the American System of Conservation Funding, the Minnesota DNR relies heavily on the sale of hunting and fishing licenses – as well as manufacturer-level excise taxes collected on outdoor equipment including firearms, ammunition, fishing rods, tackle, motorboat fuel, and more – to carry out its function of managing the state’s storied natural resources.

CSF strongly supports the language included in this legislation and will encourage its passage, as it serves as a model for how legislators can deliver benefits to deserving groups without depleting a crucial conservation funding revenue stream.

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