Environment Committee

JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT

Bill No.:

SB-207

Title:

AN ACT CONCERNING RECENT INCREASES IN HUNTING AND FISHING LICENSES AND AMENDING CERTAIN MOTOR VEHICLE FINES.

Vote Date:

3/17/2010

Vote Action:

Joint Favorable Substitute

PH Date:

3/8/2010

File No.:

SPONSORS OF BILL:

Environment Committee

Rep. Karen Jarmoc, 59th District

Rep. Emil Altobello, 82nd District

Rep. Mary G. Fritz, 90th District

Sen. John A. Kissel, 7th District

Rep. Ted C. Graziani, 57th District

Rep. Theresa W. Conroy, 105th District

Rep. Claire L. Janowski, 56th District

Rep. Roberta B. Willis, 64th District

Sen. Anthony Guglielmo, 35th District

REASONS FOR BILL:

To reduce the increase in hunting and fishing fees to a twenty per cent increase, as well as increase the fine for failure to wear a seat belt, the fine for certain motor vehicle infractions and create a new limited operator's permit that allows people who have been convicted of driving under the influence to drive to work and school.

RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:

John A. Kissel, State Senator, 7th District believes that this bill, as currently written, would partially reduce the license fee increases and it would provide some welcome relief to sportsmen. He also believes that we should do everything possible to decrease fees for fishing and hunting licenses and this bill represents a good start.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:

Eric Hammerling, Executive Director, Connecticut Forest & Park Association supports this bill and sees the value of proposing offsets for fees to be reduced to more reasonable increases. They understand the need for the state to raise revenues to meet the demands of a challenging fiscal climate, they propose two additional elements to be considered, (1) they want the scope of the bill was broader to include other fees that were doubled, (2) would like to ensure that the fees collected from citizens for hunting, fishing, and park/forest purposes are targeted toward supporting the wildlife management and park management programs of the CT DEP rather than going to the General Fund.

Donald Patterson supports this bill because to him fisherman wouldn't mind paying a four dollar increase but would if it was a twenty dollar increase. The doubling of the fishing and hunting licenses will have a negative impact on this state's economy when fewer hunters and fisherman go to bait, tackle and gun shops and it is a “double whammy” for a fisherman entering the state park to fish.

Dale May supports the concept of this bill because it would develop “a more reasonable fee structure for Connecticut's recreational sportsmen, thereby enhancing the state's natural resources”. The bill also address the fact that many individuals will choose to hunt or fish out of state or greatly curtail the type and number of permits they purchase here and there is needed immediate corrective legislation and this is a good starting point. He does make a suggestion to have the legislature allow the DEP to have input on the dollar value of the various licenses, tags and permits in the bill.

David J. Proulx, Board of Director Member, Connecticut Waterfowler's Association wants to oppose the current bill language and support the concept of lowering fees by supporting the substitute language offered by the Coalition of Connecticut Sportsmen that reduces fees to a 25% increase over previous 2009 fee levels. He also thinks that we should develop a fee-structure that is reasonable and comparable with neighboring states due to the “magnitude of the fee increases many people will stop hunting and fishing altogether, or take their business out of state”.

Bob Roy supports this bill because he thinks that the state is passing on the burdens of the financial mess to people like me and thousands of others who enjoy the sport of fishing. He also opposes and increases of the hunting and fishing licenses.

Dr. Vincent P. Ringrose, Chairman, FISHERIES ADVISORY COUNCIL support this bill because the doubling of license fees will cause two potentially devastating changes in sport fishing in Connecticut, (1) there will be a drop-off of participants, and (2) there will be a severe financial impact on businesses which sell fishing tackle, bait tackle, and fishing services. In both cases, the loss of income over the long-term will be noticeable. They urge to roll back the doubled fees to moderate increases.

Robert T. Crook, Director, Coalition of Connecticut Sportsmen support the concept of lowering fees and reducing fees to 25% over last year's fees. By doubling the fees will have a short term effect in terms of money; it will bring on a whole bunch of new problems to the state and DEP because fisherman will go to other surrounding states to get their licenses.

Peter Degregorio thinks that the increase in fishing and hunting licenses fees will be devastating to his business as well as the industry as a whole. To him, these industries give the state millions of dollars and if you raise the taxes even more, that will equal less fisherman and in the long term less money for the state.

Anthony Barone thinks that hiking up the fees for fishing and hunting licenses is ridiculous and refuses to pay double to fish in the Connecticut River. We should decrease the fees, not raise them.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:

Lea Chayes opposes a decrease in the hunting fees and would like to see those raised 100%. She states that this is a 'sport' and we should be using our money to fund other programs for things like human services and education. She also thinks that this is a fair tax and there are more people who hunt than do not.

Reported by: Alexandra Chamenko

Date: March 29, 2010