Hunting/Fishing License Fee Bill On Hold Due to Medicaid Debate

Many times in politics, an issue you are working on can be sidetracked on a moment’s notice by another unrelated issue. In 2012, the bill to designate the wolf a game species was cruising along until it fell victim for a short while to the Right to Work debate.
Now, in 2013, the hunting and fishing license fee restructuring is another such victim to an unrelated issue, this time, the debate over expanding Medicaid in Michigan.
Two weeks ago, MUCC reported that the license fee package had passed the Senate after much wrangling and debate. Because the bill had already passed the House of Representatives the week before, the bill would typically be sent to the Governor’s desk for his consideration.
However, the Senate made a number of amendments to the bill before passing it out on a 24-14 vote. Those amendments included:
  • Requirement that the DNR spend down its allotment for eco-regions from the Natural Resources Trust Fund before spending Fish and Game Fund dollars on land purchases;
  • Requirement that smaller license retailers pay $2.50 per day for equipment rentals, whereas larger retailers would pay $5; and
  • Requirement that Fisheries Division post on the DNR website a tactical plan that includes measures and metrics for the division.
Because of those changes, the bill is required to go back to the House in order for the House to concur with the Senate changes before heading to the Governor.  Typically, this is a procedural step that is acted upon quickly and without much fuss or fanfare. Enter the Medicaid expansion debate.
By the time the license fee bill made it back to the House, only a few days remained until the legislative summer recess, and the Medicaid debate was heating up in the Senate. The House was slow to take up other items on its agenda, waiting for the Senate to act on Medicaid and withholding action on bills to put pressure on the Senate to act on Medicaid.
The license fee package happened to be one of the bills on hold while the Medicaid debate played out, and when the Senate adjourned for the summer without taking a vote on Medicaid, the House quickly adjourned as well in protest, and the license fee bill changes were never concurred.
At this point, the expansion of Medicaid and the summer schedule for the legislature are both in the air, meaning it likely will not be until fall until the House concurs with the Senate license fee changes, and the Governor has a chance to sign them into law.
Politics is a funny business. As the hunting and fishing license restructuring bill has shown, not even outdoor issues are immune.

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