Ohio: Pro-Conservation Budget Advances

Contact: John Culclasure, Central Appalachian States Manager

On June 20, legislation (HB 166) that would facilitate increased funding for the Ohio Division of Wildlife (DOW) passed the Senate and is headed to conference committee after the House refused to concur with the Senate’s amendments to the budget bill.

The budget contains modest increases for resident and nonresident deer and turkey permits as well as fishing licenses that are projected to raise roughly $4 million in revenue annually. A number of these fees have not been increased since 2004, and the DOW has then had to reduce services to the state’s hunters and anglers. The fee increases proposed by Governor Mike DeWine are strongly supported by the Ohio sportsmen’s community as the DOW is largely funded by licenses fees and permits through the American System of Conservation Funding.

The budget also contains significant funding to support land acquisition from American Electric Power (AEP) as part of the ongoing efforts to keep AEP’s ReCreation Land in southeastern Ohio open to public use.

Also included in the budget through an amendment on the Senate side was language for knife ban repeal legislation (SB 140), that would repeal Ohio’s prohibition against the manufacture or sale of switchblade knives and gravity knives. These knives are legal to possess in Ohio but manufacturing or selling them is currently prohibited other than for use by law enforcement. Additionally, language specifying that knives are not included in the definition of “deadly weapon” or “weapon” for purposes of carry if the knife was not used as a weapon was included in the budget. 

Ohio Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chair Senator Joe Uecker sponsored SB 140. Separate from the budget process, SB 140 passed the Senate with a 32-1 vote on June 27. The efforts to reform knife laws may move forward as a standalone bill or as part of the budget process.

1.5 million sportsmen and women in Ohio support more than 46,800 jobs in the state and contribute more than $4.3 billion to the state’s economy.

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