Environment Committee

JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT

Bill No.:

SB-139

Title:

AN ACT CONCERNING THE AUTHORITY OF THE COMMISSIONER OF ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION TO ESTABLISH A TROUT STAMP.

Vote Date:

3/16/2016

Vote Action:

Joint Favorable Substitute

PH Date:

2/24/2016

File No.:

SPONSORS OF BILL:

Environment Committee

REASONS FOR BILL:

This bill is intended to help with the state's economy. Due to large amounts of people who enjoy the sports of fishing and hunting, it will also help regulate trout fishing.

SUBSTITUTE LANGUAGE

-Creates a non-lapsing Pheasant Stocking Account that allows for creation of a program to purchase and stock pheasants.

-Mandates that all funds collected for pheasant tags/stamps be allocated to this account, as well as voluntary donations

-Stipulates that this program be conducted within available resources

-Changes the age requirement for obtaining fees for permits, tags or stamps from “sixteen or seventeen” to “less than eighteen” years of age

RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:

Robert Klee, Commissioner, Department of Energy & Environmental Protection: The Commissioner thanked the Committee for raising this bill at its request. Using other states in the Northeast as an example, he stated that a revenue up to half a million dollars could be generated for the state's economy as a result of this bill. Lastly, any regulation under DEEP would be subject to a public hearing and comment period and legislative review if this bill passes.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:

Bruce Tolhurst, Marlborough: Mr. Tolhurst supports this bill with two exceptions. He believes that an amendment should be added to exempt anyone not required to obtain an individual license for fishing, and that the bill require DEEP to refund all purchasers when funds collected from this tax exceed what is spent on trout.

Gregory Sharp & Alicea Charamut, Board, Fisheries Advisory Council: Mr. Sharp and Ms. Charamut stated that their members support this bill from a poll that was taken. They included data from DEEP in their testimony that showed an increase in anglers 65 and older when licenses were free. Both board members also state that other members want to see an “across-the-board increase in license fees”, not just an increase for trout. Lastly, members believe that funds generated from fisheries should go back to the programs that generated the money.

Robert Crook, Director, Coalition of Connecticut Sportsmen: Mr. Crook states that CCS “reluctantly supports” this bill as and only due to “the threat on eliminating Trout stocking.” He explains that there was $4.7 million revenue from the sales of trout licenses in the state and taking away trout stocking will be a loss for the state and its fishermen.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:

Sen. Art Linares, 33rd District: Senator Linares says that this trout tax will add additional costs of obtaining a normal fishing license. This will be burdensome to the people in his district who live along the Connecticut River and beautiful lakes, ponds and the Long Island Sound.

Frank Blume: Mr. Blume believes that the answer to our state's economic problems is to cut spending instead of adding more taxes such as in this bill.

John Chunis, Rocky Hill: Mr. Chunis believes this bill makes fishing more expensive and will not raise that much more money for the state. He states that many people who enjoy this sport are the poor and on fixed income, so this tax will only hurt them.

Kenny Altberg: Mr. Altberg states that he will start fishing outside of the state if this bill is passed. He is strongly against any more taxes.

Mike Tarnowski, Colchester: Mr. Tarnowski has enjoyed fishing for the past 40 years and believes the state should “quit all the senseless spending in CT and leave” sportsmen and woman like him alone.

Walt Charczynski: Mr. Charczynski says that the state cannot be trusted to leave sportsmen out of its spending plan and that this bill will make money vanish.

Reported by: Alexandra Rice

Date: 3/22/16