Why It Matters: On September 29, 2023, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) submitted testimony in opposition to New Hampshire House Bill 512 (HB 512) – An Act Exempting Firearms Manufactured in New Hampshire from Federal Laws and Regulations. HB 512, if passed, is very likely to result in an unintended and consequential diminishment to the state’s conservation funding. While the removal of taxes sounds good to many, the exemption of these items from the Firearms and Ammunition Excise Tax collected through Pittman-Robertson would likely put a significant portion of New Hampshire’s Fish & Game Department’s funding in jeopardy.
- With the passage of Pittman-Robertson, today’s American System of Conservation Funding was created. In addition to redirecting excise taxes to conservation purposes, the bill also permanently linked state license fee revenue to conservation and set in place specific criteria that states must adhere to in order to maintain their eligibility to receive funds.
- In 2022 alone, the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department received $24.5 million dollars for conservation through this System.
- By removing firearms in New Hampshire from federal taxation through the Wildlife Restoration program, it is very likely that the USFWS will determine that the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department is no longer eligible to receive Wildlife Restoration funds.
- On October 4, 2023, the House Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety held a hearing on HB 512 and unanimously voted, Inexpedient to Legislate (ITL), shelving the Bill for now.
- With HB 512 voted ITL, at least $7.16 million has been saved for New Hampshire’s agency, conservation, the state’s sportsmen and women, and the public at large.
For more than 85 years, sportsmen and women have been the primary funders of state-level conservation efforts in New Hampshire and are thus an important constituency that provide benefits for all New Hampshire residents. Enacted in 1937, the Pittman-Robertson Act redirected previously existing manufacturer-level excise taxes on firearms and ammunition to a dedicated fund to be used specifically for wildlife conservation purposes. Once collected, the taxes are deposited into the Wildlife Restoration Account, which is administered by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), who then apportion funds to all state fish and wildlife agencies for conservation purposes. Under the Pittman-Robertson Act and per the Firearms and Ammunition Excise Tax, firearms and ammunition are subjected to a 10-11% excise tax.
Of primary concern with HB 512 is the language in section 159-F:2 Prohibitions (I.) that states, “Notwithstanding any other law to the contrary, a personal firearm, a firearm accessory, or ammunition that is manufactured commercially or privately in New Hampshire and that remains within the state of New Hampshire shall not be subject to federal law or taxation, or federal regulation, including registration, under the authority of Congress to regulate interstate commerce.” By removing firearms in New Hampshire from federal taxation through the Wildlife Restoration program, it is very likely that the USFWS will determine that the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department is no longer eligible to receive Wildlife Restoration funds.
After the October 4th unanimous vote to ITL, HB 512 has yet another hearing scheduled for November 9, 2023, with the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee at 11:00 a.m. and can be watched here.
CSF looks forward to working with our New Hampshire Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus in opposing HB 512 and other proposals that would negatively impact critical conservation funding in the Granite State.