New License Fee Package Included in State Budget

The final state budget for fiscal year 2013-2014 will include Governor Snyder’s proposed hunting, fishing and trapping license fee package. A conference committee resolved the differences between the House of Representatives and Senate versions of the budget last week, including the expected revenue from the license fee changes.
The new license fee structure would institute a $10 base license, which includes small-game and migratory birds, except for waterfowl. Additional licenses could then be added to the base license for other game species like deer and turkey. The base fee would not be needed for a fishing license, which consolidates the restricted and non-restricted licenses into one. A Combination Hunt/Fish license will also be available which includes the base, two deer tags, and the all species fishing license.
In all, the simplified license structure moves from over 230 different licenses to around 40. An additional $1 surcharge on base will be added to the base, fishing and multi-species licenses for an innovative public education campaign to make the non-hunting public more aware of the conservation benefits of hunting, fishing and trapping, based on a successful Colorado program.
Additionally, the conference committee approved $4.6 million from the general budget to hire 35 new conservation officers, potentially freeing up more of the license fee revenue to be used for biologists and additional fish and wildlife habitat improvements. The committee did not approve the $2 million proposed to replace the Great Lakes fisheries research vessel.
The bill that actually implements the license restructuring package into law – House Bill 4668 – was introduced by Rep. Jon Bumstead (R – Newago) in early May. The House Appropriations Committee passed it on May 22. It will go to a vote by the full House, after which it will go to the Senate.
Michigan United Conservation Clubs supports the license fee package because in addition to a simplified license structure, the Department of Natural Resources has been open and transparent with how it plans to use the revenue, which will go primarily to on-the-ground fish and wildlife habitat improvements, additional conservation officers, public outreach and a smarter license sales delivery system.

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