USSA: Legislature Gets Serious about Protecting Sportsmen’s Dollars
(Columbus) – Legislation to ensure that hunting and fishing license dollars are used exclusively for conservation programs has been approved by an Ohio House committee.
On Oct. 11, the House Finance Committee voted 21 to 1 in favor of HB 367, which contains a provision to protect sportsmen’s dollars from being raided to pay the administrative costs of the Department of Natural Resources. Introduced by Rep. Charles Calvert, R-Medina, and co-sponsored by Rep. Steve Buehrer, R-Delta, the bill reflects language that appeared in the Ohio budget bill, HB 66. The language had overwhelming support in the legislature, but was vetoed by Gov. Bob Taft in June.
The U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance (USSA), a leading sportsmen advocacy organization based in Columbus, called on Ohio sportsmen to flood legislators with calls and letters asking that the protective language be restored.
“It appears the constituent contacts are paying off,” said Tony Celebrezze, director of state services for the USSA. “Last week, the senate approved an amendment to a different bill that will provide the same protection for sportsmen’s dollars. Legislative leaders have committed to taking action on the issue regardless of which bill is approved.”
The USSA continues to urge Ohio sportsmen to ask legislators to prevent the diversion of hunting and fishing licenses fee dollars for non-wildlife purposes. The diversion would cost the Division of Wildlife millions of dollars, which it uses to enhance wildlife for all Ohioans.
The U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance protects the rights of hunters, anglers and trappers in the courts, legislatures, at the ballot, in Congress and through public education programs. For more information about the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance and its work, call (614) 888-4868 or visit its website, www.ussportsmen.org.
Commentary by Larry S. Moore:
HB 367 will make permanent the exclusion of the Division of Wildlife from paying indirect and direct central support monies. In other words, the hunting/trapping/fishing license fees that sportsmen pay will be solely dedicated to programs and "on the ground" work of the Division.
There are two parts to this issue that should not be intertwined. First is protecting the sportsmen dollars and second is funding the rest of the ODNR. Let's provide permanent protection for our dollars so we don't have to spend time and energy fighting that battle every budget cycle. Then we can turn our energies to streamlining the rest of ODNR.
We need to develop a constituent base and innovative methods of funding the other Divisions of ODNR.
Sportsmen should thank Reps. Calvert and Buehrer for taking the lead to bring one part of the issue to permanent closure.