Why It Matters: Every year across the country, many bills are introduced that aim to provide certain segments of the population with free or discounted hunting and fishing licenses. While many of these bills are well intended, the passage of these bills can negatively impact conservation funding for state fish and wildlife agencies.
- On January 16, the National Assembly of Sportsmen’s Caucuses (NASC) Executive Council Member and Mississippi Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus (Caucus) Co-Chair Representative Scott Bounds introduced HB 1012.
- HB 1012 would require the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks (MDWFP) to be reimbursed any lost revenue resulting from the issuance of free or discounted hunting and fishing licenses, admission to state parks, and other fees.
- The Department of Finance and Administration would administer payment of monies from the State General Fund in an amount equal to the lost revenue to the MDWFP.
- No free or discounted licenses on the books prior to July 1, 2023 would be affected.
The MDWFP’s mission is to conserve and enhance Mississippi’s wildlife, fisheries, and parks, provide quality outdoor recreation, and engage the public in natural resource conservation. HB 1012 would assist in ensuring that MDWFP continues to receive the necessary funding to continue to work towards accomplishing its mission.
In 2021 alone, sportsmen and women in Mississippi contributed $32.60 million to conservation funding through the “user pays — public benefits” structure known as the American System of Conservation Funding (ASCF). Revenue generated from the purchase of hunting and fishing licenses is instrumental to the success of the ASCF. Of the $32.60 million generated by hunters and anglers in the state, over $18 million was the result of hunting and fishing license sales which further amplifies the need to ensure this revenue remains protected.
If HB 1012 were to pass, it would bring Mississippi alongside Michigan, New Jersey, and Tennessee as states that have enacted similar legislation to have the State General Fund reimburse the state fish and wildlife agency for revenue lost due to the passage and creation of free and discounted hunting licenses.
The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation looks forward to working alongside Representative Bounds and the Caucus to move HB 1012 forward and will continue to fight to protect funding for conservation in Mississippi and across the country.