A bill to create a combined hunting and fishing license that would be valid for an entire year was approved by the Assembly Water, Parks, and Wildlife Committee on Thursday.
Senate Bill 470, authored by Senator Brian Jones, would create a combined hunting and fishing license that would grant the holder of the license the same privileges as the current individual hunting and fishing licenses. The proposed license would begin in January 2024, last for one year, and would be automatically renewed if wanted by the license holder. While the fee amount is currently unknown, the Fish and Game Commission (FGC) would make a decision on the rate by July 2023.
Senator Jones wrote the bill largely due to years of declining numbers of issued hunting and fishing licenses. While the number of issued licenses has recently gone up due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they are expected by many to recede again due to California opening up to pre-pandemic levels. As the decrease in licenses has meant less money going towards conservation and wildlife management programs in the state, a combined license is seen as a way to keep the number of new licenses issued on the upswing, as well as a way to fund those programs. Supporters also hope that with such a dual license in place, interest in outdoor activities would also increase, which could lead to more Californians and tourists participating as part of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife R3 Implementation Strategy.
“This benefits Californians who love to hunt and fish as well as wildlife conservation programs that are funded by hunting and fishing license revenues,” stated Senator Jones on Thursday in a statement. “The ease of getting one combined license, which is valid for a full year and can be auto-renewed, will help increase interest and participation in both of these sports.”
Support for SB 470 has been near-universal, with the bill passing unanimously in every committee and chamber vote so far, including a 39-0 Senate vote last month. Support from numerous outdoor and environmental organizations alike has only solidified support for the bill.
“Hunters and fishers, as well as periphery groups like boating associations and gun groups, want to see more people outdoors,” explained Lorenzo Kelly, a hunting and fishing statistician who helps provide data to many outdoor organizations, to the Globe on Friday. “Meanwhile, environmental organizations generally like to have higher numbers of hunters and fishers because it means more money going into state programs from license and tag fees, especially in states like California.”
“It shouldn’t be a surprise then when [lawmakers] from both sides like the idea. The two sides actually work together on all sorts of issues in the U.S., as they have a lot of common ground despite general political divisions. Especially on land conservation issues. Hunter need more land to hunt, environmentalists want to preserve land. It’s a ‘Teddy Roosevelt’ compromise of sorts.”
No opposition has been formed against SB 470 as of Thursday. The bill is expected to be heard in the Assembly Appropriations Committee in the coming weeks.
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