Bill Taxing Sportsmen to Fund Schools Tabled in Wyoming

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Take Action Today! Wyoming sportsmen should contact their state legislators and tell them to vote NO on any legislation that raids hunting- and fishing-license funding to pay for any item not related to wildlife management and conservation. Wyoming members can contact their state legislator by using the Sportsmen’s Alliance Legislative Action Center.

Legislation that would have used hunting- and fishing-license dollars to fund public schools and fill an estimated $200 million budget gap was rejected by a Wyoming legislative committee. The bill, sponsored by the Joint Interim Committee on Agriculture, State & Public Lands & Water Resources, was tabled in committee.

If passed, it would have forced Wyoming resident sportsmen to pay an additional $5 on hunting and fishing licenses and non-residents to pay an additional $15 to fund the Wyoming Public School Foundation.

Federal law prohibits states that divert fishing and hunting license dollars from receiving federal funds earmarked for conservation. According to Bill Draft 246, none of the funds raised by the license-fee increases would be used for wildlife- or conservation-related programs, but instead would be used to fund Wyoming’s public schools.

Additionally, it created a “control issue,” meaning that under federal law, the Wyoming Game Commission has to control the money and it must be used for wildlife and conservation programs. This bill would have broken every rule mandated by the Pittman-Robertson Act, and would have cost Wyoming an estimated $18 million of Pittman-Robertson revenue next year in exchange for an estimated $6 million into the Wyoming Public School Foundation. Thankfully, the committee sided with sportsmen in deciding to table the bill until more discussion could be had on the issue.

Sportsmen have few issues with fees when it comes to paying for hunting and fishing licenses because the revenue generated from those sales has always gone directly back to funding conservation and management of Wyoming’s wildlife. These needed funds pay for the recruitment and retention of new hunters, habitat improvements, public access, endangered species programs and hunter education programs.

In 2017, the state of Wyoming received more than $19 million in federal Sport Fish and Wildlife Restoration funds, which come from excise taxes on firearms, ammunition and archery equipment, as well as fishing equipment such as trolling motors, fishing rods and reels. Estimates for 2018 already show a projected decrease of around $1 million from those funds.

“Once again, sportsmen and women are being targeted to pay for a budget gap unrelated to hunting, angling or trapping. While Wyoming sportsmen and women support education, they oppose raiding hunting-license dollars to pay for schools,” said Luke Houghton, Sportsmen’s Alliance associate director of state services. “We must remain vigilant. There is no telling if someone will reintroduce this legislation again in January 2019 when the legislature begins a new session.”

About the Sportsmen’s Alliance: The Sportsmen’s Alliance protects and defends America’s wildlife conservation programs and the pursuits – hunting, fishing and trapping – that generate the money to pay for them. Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation is responsible for public education, legal defense and research.  Its mission is accomplished through several distinct programs coordinated to provide the most complete defense capability possible. Stay connected to Sportsmen’s Alliance: OnlineFacebookTwitter and Instagram.