House Subcommittee Passes DNR Budget; Your Voices Were HeardMarch 22nd, 2013
Six weeks ago, a new hunting, fishing, and trapping license fee package was presented by Governor Rick Snyder as part of his 2014 budget.
The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Natural Resources passed a budget out, which is a reflection of what they heard from hunters, trappers, and anglers all around the state, but also reflects the fact that Michigan is still on the uphill climb to economic recovery.
In response to hundreds of calls from sportsmen and women across the state, this version of the budget contains most elements of the proposed license fee package, which will bring in a projected $18 million in its first full year of implementation ($11 million for FY 2013-2014 since it would not be in effect until March 2014). Some changes to the package are scheduled to be adopted, including:
- Discounted licenses for juniors, similar to seniors
- A new multi-species Sportsmen’s License Package
- Reducing the 24-hour fishing license from a proposed $15 to $10
Unfortunately, the DNR budget did not escape unscathed from the targeted General Fund cuts occurring in most departments. Once again, as has been the case for many years, sportsmen and women will continue to pay for the bulk of our state’s natural resources management. General Fund items that the Governor proposed but were cut from this version included:
- $2 million one-time funding to replace the 65-year old Great Lakes research vessel, the Chinook;
- $3.7 million in ongoing funding to operate Belle Isle as a State Park, if the City of Detroit concurs;
- $3.5 million in ongoing funding to support the hiring of 25 new Conservation Officers, and $600,000 in one time funding to fund the academy (there will still be some money dedicated to increasing CO’s in the license fee package, approximately 16 could be hired if revenues come in as projected);
- An additional $150,000 for Aquatic Invasive Species prevention and control; and
- $9.7 million from the Waterways Fund for emergency dredging and other boating projects.
However, recent conversations with House members may shine a glimmer of hope for a new Great Lakes research vessel, but it may have to wait a little longer to find money to to cover this expense. Hopefully, the Chinook can keep chugging until then.
Overall, we are thankful to the House Subcommittee members that voted to support the license fee package in this budget–Representatives Bumstead, Jenkins, McCready, and Brown.
But now is not the time to relax, if you have not already done so we continue to urge you to call your Representatives and Senators to support the license fee package and to consider adding some or all of the General Fund items back into the final budget bill. Another version of this bill will also come through the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Natural Resources, both bills will move through their respective chambers and likely eventually end up in conference committee to hash out the differences.
Please also contact those on the Senate Appropriations:
- Senator Roger Kahn, Appropriations Chair (R-32-Saginaw) 517-373-1760 or SenRKahn@senate.michigan.gov
- Senator Mike Green, Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee Chair (R-31-Mayville) 517-373-1777 or SenMGreen@senate.michigan.gov
- Senator Darwin Booher (R-35-Evart) 517-373-1725 or SenDBooher@senate.michigan.gov
- Senator Howard Walker (R-37-Traverse City) 517-373-2413 or SenHWalker@senate.michigan.gov
- Senator Hoon-Yung Hopgood (D-8-Taylor) 517-373-7800 or SenHHopgood@senate.michigan.gov
In addition, legislators are in their districts over spring break (March 22-April 7). Find out when they might have coffee hours over the break and join them to discuss this proposal.