OLR Bill Analysis

sSB 139

AN ACT CONCERNING THE AUTHORITY OF THE COMMISSIONER OF ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION TO ESTABLISH A TROUT STAMP AND A RESIDENT GAME BIRD CONSERVATION STAMP, AMENDING CERTAIN HUNTING AND FISHING FEES FOR RESIDENTS LESS THAN EIGHTEEN YEARS OF AGE AND ERECTING A PHEASANT STOCKING ACCOUNT AND PROGRAM.

SUMMARY:

This bill makes various changes to the laws governing fishing and hunting. Among its provisions, the bill:

1. establishes a pheasant stocking account for the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) to use to conduct its pheasant stocking program;

2. expands the birds that a person can hunt with a migratory bird conservation stamp and increases, from $13 to $17, the maximum fee DEEP can charge for the stamp;

3. requires a person to buy a resident game bird conservation stamp to hunt resident game birds and sets related requirements for the stamp and stamp proceeds;

4. requires the DEEP commissioner to adopt regulations establishing a three-day out-of-state bird hunting license; and

5. authorizes the DEEP commissioner to adopt regulations establishing a trout stamp.

Additionally, the bill decreases the fee charged for any hunting, trapping, or fishing permit, tag, or stamp by 50%, rounded to the next higher dollar, for a child under age 16. Existing law already reduces the fee by 50% for children age sixteen or seventeen.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2016

1 — PHEASANT STOCKING ACCOUNT

The bill establishes a pheasant stocking account as a separate, nonlapsing account in the General Fund. The funds must be used (presumably by DEEP) to conduct a pheasant stocking program, including purchasing and stocking pheasants, which must be done within the available resources of the account. (In practice, DEEP already conducts a pheasant stocking program.)

By law, the DEEP commissioner may establish by regulation a pheasant permit, tag, or stamp, for which he may charge up to $28. DEEP already makes pheasant stamps available. Under the bill, pheasant stamp proceeds and any voluntary donations made to the program must be deposited to the pheasant stocking account.

1 & 3-5 — MIGRATORY AND RESIDENT GAME BIRD STAMPS

1 & 3 — Migratory Game Birds

Under current law, anyone age 16 or older wishing to hunt or take waterfowl in Connecticut must obtain a hunting license and a Connecticut migratory bird conservation stamp. Waterfowl, a subset of migratory game birds, generally includes ducks and geese.

The bill expands the game birds that hunters with a migratory bird conservation stamp may hunt to include all migratory game birds. Migratory game birds generally include birds that spend the summer in northern latitudes and the winter in southern latitudes. These include waterfowl, certain webless waterbirds (e.g., rails and coots), and certain webless upland birds (e.g., woodcocks and snipes).

The bill increases, from $13 to $17, the maximum fee DEEP may charge for a migratory bird conservation stamp.

1 & 3 — Resident Game Birds

The bill requires anyone wishing to hunt or take resident game birds to obtain a Connecticut resident game bird conservation stamp, in addition to a hunting license already required by law. The bill:

1. requires the DEEP commissioner to (a) arrange for the design, production, and procurement of the stamp and (b) adopt regulations establishing the stamp;

2. authorizes him to reproduce the stamp as a print or related artwork for sale; and

3. establishes $28 as the maximum fee DEEP can charge for the stamp.

Resident game birds, those that stay in the area year-round, generally include an array of commonly hunted birds, including crows, wild turkeys, ruffed grouse, prairie chickens, partridges, and quail.

3 — Voluntary Donations

Under current law, the DEEP commissioner must establish a program through which people may voluntarily donate $2 or more for the conservation of migratory game birds. Donations must be deposited to a subaccount in the state's migratory bird conservation account. The bill requires the commissioner to expand the program to accept voluntary donations of $2 or more for the conservation of resident game birds. It renames the account the migratory bird and resident game bird conservation account. Any voluntary donations received must be deposited in the subaccount.

4 — Migratory Bird and Resident Game Bird Conservation Account

The bill expands the funds that DEEP must deposit into the renamed account, which the treasurer must maintain as a separate, nonlapsing account in the General Fund. Currently, DEEP must deposit fees received from the sale of migratory game bird stamps and any related artwork. The bill instead requires the account to contain fees received for the sale of migratory game bird stamps, resident game bird stamps, and any artwork related to both stamps, as well as voluntary donations described above and license fees collected from the new out-of-state bird hunting license (see 6 below).

The bill expands the purposes for which the funds in the account and subaccount may be used. Current law requires the funds to be used for (1) developing, managing, preserving, conserving, acquiring, purchasing, and maintaining waterfowl habitat and wetlands and (2) purchasing or acquiring recreational rights or interests related to migratory birds. Under the bill, funds must instead be used for (1) developing, managing, preserving, conserving, acquiring, purchasing, and maintaining migratory and resident game birds, such game birds' habitats, and wetlands and (2) purchasing or acquiring recreational rights or interests related to migratory and resident game birds. By law, and under the bill, the account funds may also be used for designing, producing, promoting, procuring, and selling artwork related to the stamps.

5 — Citizen's Advisory Board

The bill expands the purposes of the citizen's advisory board that, by law, advises the DEEP commissioner on the design, production, and procurement of the migratory bird conservation stamp and the use of funds in the conservation account. Under the bill, the board must also advise him on the design, production, and procurement of the resident game bird conservation stamp.

Current law requires the seven-member advisory board, which the DEEP commissioner appoints, to include people active in migratory bird or wetland habitat conservation. Under the bill, the board must instead include people active in migratory or resident game bird or habitat conservation. By law, they may, in lieu of such activity, have expertise or knowledge that is pertinent and valuable to the program.

6 — OUT-OF-STATE BIRD HUNTING LICENSE

The bill requires the DEEP commissioner to adopt regulations to establish a three-day bird hunting license for out-of-state people to hunt “migratory waterfowl upland game birds” in Connecticut. (It is unclear what game birds they can hunt under this license.)

Under the bill, the commissioner must charge $35 for the license, which is in addition to any permit or stamp required by law. All license fees collected must be deposited in the migratory bird and resident game bird conservation account described above.

1 — TROUT STAMP

The bill allows the DEEP commissioner to adopt regulations establishing a trout permit, tag, or stamp, which anyone wishing to fish for trout in Connecticut would have to purchase in addition to a general fishing license. Under the bill, DEEP may charge up to $10 for each trout permit, tag, or stamp.

COMMITTEE ACTION

Environment Committee

Joint Favorable Substitute

Yea

29

Nay

0

(03/16/2016)