Contact: Kent Keene, Assistant Manager, Lower Midwestern States and Agriculture Policy
Why It Matters: The opportunity to facilitate open communication and collaboration is one of the primary purposes for the National Assembly of Sportsmen’s Caucuses (NASC) network. The conversations around Kansas House Bill 2456 have highlighted the value of such collaboration. Introduced as a very worthwhile concept, the willingness of members of the Kansas Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus to engage with staff at the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks has led to the adoption of amendments that will help accomplish the bill’s mission of providing a positive way to invest in the future of sportsmen and women while protecting the American System of Conservation Funding.
Following discussions between supporters of youth lifetime license concept within the legislature and representatives from the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP), Kansas House Bill 2456 was recently passed out of the Kansas House of Representatives with amendments.
As previously reported, KS HB 2456 was introduced by Kansas Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chair Representative Ken Corbet as an effort to create a low-cost lifetime combination license for youth ages five and younger. This effort is designed as an opportunity for adults to make investments in the next generation of sportsmen and women. However, the original language created concerns shared by KDWP and some members of the sporting-conservation community who worried that the initial cost would threaten KDWP’s funding, given their sole reliance on the “user pays – public benefits” framework of the American System of Conservation Funding.
After productive conversations between engaged legislators and the KDWP, HB 2456 was amended to increase the initial price of this combination license from $200 to $300 and includes the opportunity for KDWP to increase the price up to $400 after the first five years. This opportunity will allow KDWP to evaluate any unintended negative funding consequences associated with the license and take necessary steps to address these challenges in the future. Finally, the amended legislation includes a ten-year sunset that will allow the success of this license concept to be thoroughly evaluated.
Following the adoption of these amendments, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) and several representatives from the sporting-conservation community submitted a letter of support for HB 2456 to members of the Kansas Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus. In the letter, the community acknowledged the recent downward trends in hunter and angler participation and recognized the license framework in HB 2456 as an opportunity to invest in the next generation of sportsmen and women. Likewise, the coalition applauded the amendments made to HB 2456 to ensure that it protects the American System of Conservation Funding. Following passage in the House by a vote of 117-4, HB 2456 was introduced in the Kansas Senate last week and currently awaits further action in the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources.
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?