Tuesday, March 8, 2016

PA Game Commission Applauds Bill To Increase License Fees

Senate bill proposes $10 increase in cost of resident hunting or furtaker license.

          Legislation that would authorize Pennsylvania’s first hunting-license fee increase in more than 17 years – critical funding for the state’s wildlife and the future of hunting and trapping – was introduced Friday in the state Senate. 

Senate Bill 1148 of 2015, which is sponsored by Sen. Chuck McIlhinney, R-Bucks County; and cosponsored by Sen. Jim Brewster, D-Allegheny and Westmoreland counties, Sen. Richard Alloway II, R-Adams, Cumberland, Franklin and York counties; and Sen. Mario Scavello, R-Monroe and Northampton counties, would increase the fee for a resident general hunting or furtaker license by $10, from $19 to $29. 

Resident and nonresident junior and senior license fees would not be increased under the proposal.

But fees for a number of other resident and nonresident licenses, including bear, antlerless deer and archery licenses, also would be increased if the bill becomes law.           Additionally, the bill would create an inclusive combination license called the Ultimate Outdoorsman, for which residents paying the $110 fee would receive their general license, furtaker license, archery license, muzzleloader license, bear license, special wild turkey license and migratory game bird license. 

The Ultimate Outdoorsman would save license buyers $38 compared to the cost of purchasing those licenses individually. Nonresidents would pay $350 for the Ultimate Outdoorsman license, based on the proposal. 

A complete schedule of fees as proposed by the legislation is included at the end of this news release.

Pennsylvania Game Commission Executive Director R. Matthew Hough thanked the bill‘s sponsor and cosponsors for putting forth a proposal that, if approved in a timely manner, would provide the Game Commission with sustainable funding to enable the agency to meet the goals and objectives outlined by its 2015-2020 Strategic Plan.

“Seventeen years is a long time, and I’m sure almost everyone can relate to how costs have escalated since the last license-fee increase took effect in 1999,” Hough said. “Without a single increase to cover the cost of inflation during that time, it has become increasingly difficult to stretch the same dollar any further, and we are at the point now where we have needed to make some very difficult decisions to cut staff and scale back programs solely for budgetary reasons.

“The license-fee increase proposed by Senators McIlhinney, Brewster, Alloway and Scavello, would put the Game Commission back on solid financial footing, and the sooner this proposal is approved, the better for the state’s wildlife, and its hunters and trappers, and all citizens of the Commonwealth who care about wildlife,” Hough said.

Unlike many state agencies, the Game Commission does not receive tax money from the state’s general fund to help pay for staff and operations. Instead, the Game Commission is funded almost exclusively by the state’s hunters and trappers. 

Today in Pennsylvania, almost 35 percent of the Game Commission’s revenue comes from the sale of hunting and furtaker licenses. Other primary sources of income include federal Pittman-Robertson funds collected from an excise tax on sporting arms and ammunition, and revenue derived from the sale of natural resources like timber, oil and gas on lands owned by the Game Commission.

The state’s hunters and trappers have demonstrated clear support for a license-fee increase. Thirteen of the Pennsylvania’s major sportsmen’s organizations with statewide membership have formally supported a license-fee increase.  

The Game Commission last summer introduced a proposal to increase hunting-license fees, and now that legislation has been introduced, places its full support behind Senate Bill 1148. 
# # # 
Senate Bill 1148 of 2015 proposes increasing license fees by the following amounts:

Adult resident hunting                                               $19 to $29
Bear hunting resident                                                $15 to $20
Bear hunting nonresident                                           $35 to $40
Antlerless deer resident                                             $5  to $10
Antlerless deer nonresident                                       $25 to $40
Archery deer resident                                               $15 to $20
Archery deer nonresident                                          $25 to $40
Muzzleloader deer resident                                       $10 to $20
Muzzleloader deer nonresident                                  $20 to $40
Adult nonresident hunting                                          $100 to $150
Seven-day nonresident small game                            $30 to $50
Adult resident furtaker                                              $19 to $29
Adult nonresident furtaker                                         $80 to $100
Migratory game bird resident                                     $2 to $5
Migratory game bird nonresident                                $5 to $10
Special wild turkey resident                                        $20 to $25
Special wild turkey nonresident                                   $40 to $50
New categories of licenses:

Senior nonresident hunting                                          $100
Senior nonresident furtaker                                         $80
Senior nonresident combo hunting and furtaker            $150

Ultimate outdoor combo
(bear, archery, muzzleloader, furtaker, migratory game bird,
   special wild turkey)
   resident                                                                     $110
   nonresident                                                               $350

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