By Brent Miller, Senior Director, Northeastern States
On March 26, HB 808 was voted out of the Pennsylvania House Game & Fisheries Committee with a 19 – 4 vote. The bill, sponsored by Pennsylvania Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Member Representative Bill Kortz, would provide the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission the authority to set their own license and permit fees. The last time the cost of a fishing license increased in Pennsylvania was in 2005 and the Commission officials are worried programs may have to be cut if a fee increase is not legislatively authorized.
Similar legislation authorizing the Pennsylvania Game Commission the power to set hunting license, permit, and tag fees is expected to follow suit as soon as the process is completed for the Fish and Boat Commission. Hunting licenses in Pennsylvania have not been increased since 1999.
In 2012, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation worked with the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission and the Caucus to pass SB 1049 to grant the Commission the authority to sell multi-year licenses and offer promotional discounts for marketing purposes. This lowered costs for specific items and for the anglers that took advantage of them.
“Although a fee increase is presently needed and expected, granting authority to state agencies and commissions to set their own fees does not guarantee a fee increases in perpetuity. Rather, it gives the agency flexibility to meet changing economic conditions and to potentially adjust fees in a manner that could assist with hunter and angler recruitment, retention, and reactivation efforts. With additional participants, agencies may be able to lower the costs of licenses while still providing services to state residents through the American System of Conservation Funding.
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