Contact: Mark Lance, Southeastern States Coordinator
On January 18, National Assembly of Sportsmen’s Caucuses (NASC) Executive Council Member and Mississippi Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus (Caucus) Co-Chair Representative Scott Bounds introduced legislation that would dedicate sales tax on outdoor gear for conservation purposes. Caucus Members Representative Trey Lamar, Representative Bill Kinkade, and Representative Tom Miles co-sponsored the legislation.
House Bill 1231 would establish the Mississippi Outdoor Stewardship Fund (Fund) and dedicate a portion of the state’s sales tax on outdoor sporting goods to the Fund. This diversion of sales tax monies could provide up to $20 million per year in funding for wildlife conservation projects and would not increase hunting and fishing license fees or increase taxes on the general public.
Funding for projects would be determined by a Board of Trustees (Board). Counties, municipalities, state agencies, and nongovernmental entities must submit an application to the Board detailing the desired project and how much funding would be required. The Board will give increased priority to projects that support and promote hunting, fishing, and other forms of outdoor recreation.
“I’m excited to work with my colleagues in the Mississippi Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus to advance legislation to create the Mississippi Outdoor Stewardship Trust Fund,” said Rep. Bounds. “Our aim is to provide a dedicated funding source for projects that would aid in conserving Mississippi’s natural resources and provide greater recreational opportunities for Mississippi’s sportsmen and women.”
Mississippi’s 782,000 sportsmen and women contribute more than $3.02 billion to the state’s economy and last year alone generated more than $35.52 million for state-based conservation through the American System of Conservation Funding.
The bill passed out of the House Committee on Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks on January 28 and awaits action in the House Committee on Ways and Means. The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation supports the effort to establish the Mississippi Outdoor Stewardship Trust Fund and help conserve Mississippi’s lands, waters, and outdoor sporting traditions.
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?