The State Senate today overwhelmingly approved legislation sponsored by Senator Pat Stefano (R32) which would give the Pennsylvania Game Commission the authority to establish the fees that it charges for hunting and fur-taking licenses.
Stefano said S.B. 192 would allow the commission to set its own license costs while providing the legislature with necessary oversight of the organization.
The Game Commission’s fees are currently determined by legislation. The Commission is not supported with revenues from the General Fund but instead relies on the fees paid by license holders. Stefano noted that it has been 18 years since the legislature has granted the commission a license increase, providing a severe financial strain on its operation.
“This bill would give the Commission the flexibility and authority to develop and maintain a fee structure that generates sufficient revenues to pay for its activities on behalf of hunters and trappers,” Stefano said. “It’s a common sense and much-needed change that will benefit Pennsylvania sportsmen and enable the Commission to better respond to changes in market conditions and other areas.”
Stefano said his experience as a small business owner helped inform his view of why this change was necessary. “I would never run my business like the legislature attempts to run the Game Commission. If you are going to adjust the prices of licenses you want to do it gradually, over a period of time not in large amounts, all at once the way the current process has played out.”
Stefano noted that without new revenue, the Game Commission would have to begin to make significant cuts important to sportsmen. “I am hopeful that the House takes action on this bill and SB 30, which would accomplish the same goal for the Fish and Boat Commission, sooner rather than later. Last week the Senate Game and Fisheries Committee, which I chair, held a hearing that detailed the steps both the Game Commission and the Fish and Boat Commission will be forced to take if their revenue issues are not addressed this year. Sportsmen groups have come forward in favor of these bills because they understand they will ultimately be the ones hurt by depleted commissions. The House cannot allow the catastrophic consequences of inaction on these bills to affect our wildlife management programs in Pennsylvania.”
Both bills now go to the House of Representatives for consideration.
CONTACT: Ben Wren (717) 787-7175