MUCC’s Position on the License Fee Proposal: Questions We’re AskingFebruary 27th, 2013
In considering the Governor’s proposal, MUCC has looked at two areas of focus: Simplicity in regulations and transparency in funding.
We’ll start with the simplicity focus first.
Michigan’s license system is too complicated, its delivery system too glitchy.
Deer hunters (who make up 90% of hunting license buyers in Michigan) alone have a choice of a single archery tag for bucks, a single firearms tag for bucks, a combo tag that includes two buck tags, one of which can be used for an antlerless deer in bow season and one of which can only be used on a buck with at least four antler points. Then there’s unit-specific antlerless tags. And if you buy a single buck tag, you need to be aware of antler point restrictions (APR) that apply to it that vary by region. A certain level of region-specific regulations are acceptable and, in many cases, beneficial.
But we need a licensing system that doesn’t discourage participation by confusing potential hunters.
The Governor’s proposed system is indeed simpler. You buy a base hunting license (at least one-third of hunters were already buying this as a small game license) for $10. You may then add a deer tag. You are allowed to buy two deer tags that can be used on antlered bucks. One of those bucks must have at least four points on a side. Doe tags are available separately and are still unit-specific. These rules are still governed by the Natural Resources Commission (not the legislature) who can amend them at any time, but they, as far as we know, intend to keep the same basic rules in place.
While there are still details to be ironed out in regards to APR areas and unit-specific regulations, this is clearly a simpler system and it’s also the system neighboring Ohio employs.
On the fishing side, the number of license options has been reduced as well. Right now, license sales are split nearly 60/40 among anglers who choose the restricted versus the all-species license. Under this proposal, you no longer need to buy a different license if you intend to fish for trout and salmon. One license covers all species.
But will the new license system be administered in a better way? The current licensing system is outdated and sketchy. We’ve all spent too much time waiting for a license retailer to decipher which license it is that we actually need. And there is, of course, the problem with the system allowing the sale of multiple tags when regulations allow for only one to legally be purchased (see link for 2011 Auditor General report).
MUCC asked specific questions about the new licensing system and were assured that the new system would be simpler and “smarter.” It will be a real-time system that will not only offer fewer, simpler license options but will also be able to determine, in real-time, whether you have already bought that license. If you have and regulations allow for only one license to be purchased, the system will not sell you another.
In summary, MUCC is satisfied that the proposed system is indeed simpler and feels hunters, anglers and trappers will be better-served with a simpler, smarter license system.
Now, onto the more difficult evaluation: Is the fee increase truly necessary? We’ll tackle that in Thursday and Friday’s entries.