Free Hunting and Fishing Licenses for Veterans with Disabilities Looked at in House

Last week, the House Committee on Natural Resources, Tourism, and Outdoor Recreation took testimony on House Bill 5292, sponsored by Rep. Holly Hughes (R-Montague). The bill would provide hunting and fishing licenses free of charge to veterans with disabilities designated by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs as “permanently and totally disabled as a result of military service,” or determined to be “individually unemployable.”
The nonpartisan House Fiscal Agency’s review of the bill identified that HB 5292 would have an indeterminate fiscal impact on the Michigan DNR because the number eligible veterans with disabilities who would participate could not be determined.
Issues were also raised from the Department about the potential loss of some Pittman-Robertson federal grant dollars due to the fact that the grants are given out based on the number of individuals purchasing licenses at the amount of $1 or higher. Because the proposed free licenses would not meet the $1 threshold, those sportsmen and women could not be counted in the formula to determine Michigan’s eligible allotment of the federal Pittman-Robertson funding.
Veterans with disabilities currently may purchase the senior hunting, fishing, and trapping licenses which are discounted by 60 percent. Although it is not determinable how much this would affect Michigan’s portion of the grant, rough estimates of the number of veterans even eligible for the free license appear that the effect may be minimal.
The bill was brought up for testimony only, and it is not clear when the bill may be voted on in the House committee.

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