OLR Bill Analysis

sHB 5304

AN ACT CONCERNING CHARITABLE CONTRIBUTIONS PAID IN LIEU OF FINES FOR HUNTING AND FISHING VIOLATIONS.

SUMMARY:

This bill creates a “Turn in Poachers account” and the “Lobster Restoration account” as two separate, nonlapsing accounts within the General Fund. It specifies (1) that account funds must be paid to the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) commissioner and (2) how he can spend them.

It allows a court or a state prosecutor, when deciding how to dispose of a case or whether to dismiss charges, respectively, to consider whether the alleged violator made a charitable contribution to one of the accounts. The cases must involve alleged violations of (1) the hunting and inland waters fishing laws, with respect to the Turn in Poachers account and (2) marine waters fishing laws, with respect to the Lobster Restoration account.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2012

TURN IN POACHERS AND LOBSTER RESTORATION ACCOUNTS

The bill requires the accounts to contain any (1) deposits the law requires and (2) public or private contributions, gifts, grants, donations, bequests, or devises to the account.

Under the bill, defendants must make contributions to the DEEP commissioner, who must immediately deposit the contributions in the appropriate account.

The DEEP commissioner must spend the money in the Turn in Poachers account to (1) provide grants to the Turn In Poachers nonprofit organization and (2) staff the department's toll-free hotline, which people use to report poaching and other fish and game law violations. He must spend the money in the Lobster Restoration account for the lobster restoration program established under state law.

BACKGROUND

Turn in Poachers Program

The Turn in Poachers program (also called TIP) rewards people who provide DEEP with information about poaching and other fish and game law violations. Informants call a 24-hour, toll-free, confidential hotline staffed by DEEP. Turn in Poachers, a statewide nonprofit organization, offers the informant a reward if a DEEP investigation leads to an arrest.

Lobster Restoration Program

By law, the DEEP commissioner must establish a lobster restoration program, under which the tails of mature female lobsters that licensed commercial fishermen land are marked with a V-shaped notch and then released in order to increase lobster egg production. The law requires DEEP to compensate, if funds become available, each commercial fisherman who (1) lands, has marked, and releases lobsters and (2) reports it as required by law. The compensation must equal the average market value, which the commissioner determines, for each lobster released.

COMMITTEE ACTION

Environment Committee

Joint Favorable Substitute

Yea

28

Nay

0

(03/21/2012)