SB 257: Ohio Senate Approves Multi-Year License Bill

After agreeing to an amendment sought by sportsmen’s groups, the Ohio Senate approved legislation on April 11 aimed at better customer service for hunters, anglers and trappers. Senate Bill 257 contains 10 changes to hunting and fishing laws, including:

  • Multi-year hunting and fishing licenses
  • Lifetime hunting and fishing licenses
  • Allows the Ohio Division of Wildlife to create combination licenses
  • Allows gas powered ATVs/UTVs for disabled hunters
  • Removes the three-year cap for purchasers of an Apprentice Hunting License
  • Creates an Apprentice Furbearer Permit
  • Creates a non-resident Lake Erie fishing Permit
  • Allows non-resident youth to purchase licenses at resident prices

Sportsmen’s groups, led by the Sportsmen’s Alliance and including Buckeye Firearms Association, Ducks Unlimited, Ohio Conservation Federation, Ohio State Trappers Association, Pheasants Forever, Quail Forever, Safari Club International – Central OH Chapter, Greene County Fish and Game Association, Columbiana County Federation of Conservation Clubs, Hocking County Fish and Game, and Stark County Federation of Conservation Clubs, were able to negotiate changes with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and the sponsor, Sen. Joe Uecker (R-Miami Township), to reduce the discount levels and bring them in line with recommendations from the nation’s top economic research firm on outdoor recreation.

Southwick Associates, one of the nation’s leading outdoor economic research firms, was retained by the Ohio Division of Wildlife to research the viability of multi-year licenses. The study advised that any discounts should be 5 percent or less to minimize potential revenue loss, while still retaining a good incentive for customers. Sen. Bill Beagle (R-Tipp City) authored the amendment setting discounts at 5 percent, which was unanimously approved by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on April 10. The committee then approved the bill without dissent. The bill was passed the following day by a vote of 33-0.

SB 257 now heads to the Ohio House of Representatives. The House Energy and Natural Resources Committee has already heard House Bill 518, which is identical to the Senate Bill except for the discounts addressed by the Senate. The committee is expected to take up the same amendment during its next meeting.

The Sportsmen’s Alliance and its partners appreciate the willingness of the ODNR, bill sponsors, committee chairs and other key legislators who worked to fashion a bill supported by all parties.

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