By DAVID EGGERT, Associated Press
LANSING (AP) – Michigan’s first significant increase in hunting and fishing license fees since 1997 passed the House on Wednesday, a move that has the blessing of outdoor groups.
Legislation, approved 77-32 by the Republican-led chamber, would raise about $20 million more for wildlife, fisheries and habitat programs, a 40 percent boost. The fee hikes, which legislators built into the next state budget at the request of Gov. Rick Snyder, would begin in March 2014.
Michigan has 227 different types of hunting and fishing license fees. The bill headed to the Senate would leave the state with approximately 40, according to a House Fiscal Agency analysis.
The proposal would create a “base” hunting license costing $11 for in-state residents, with lower rates for youths and seniors. For out-of-state hunters, the price would be $151. The base license would pay for hunting waterfowl, migratory birds and small game such as rabbits.
Separate fees still would be levied for hunting certain species, and some of those would increase: Tags for deer would rise from $15 to $20, and the bear license from $15 to $25. A 24-hour fishing license would increase from $7 to $10. The fee for a seasonal all-species license would drop from $28 to $25 for Michigan residents, but rise from $42 to $75 for out-of-state anglers.
Supporters said it has been too long since the fees went up, saying purchasing power has eroded over time.
“People don’t mind it if they know where the money’s going,” said bill sponsor Rep. Jon Bumstead, a Newaygo Republican and a hunter. “It can sell itself if somebody will just listen.”
Bumstead, who chairs the House committee that oversees the state Department of Natural Resources budget, said the agency did a good job telling outdoor groups how the additional revenue would be spent.
Also Wednesday, the House voted 70-39 to increase the off-road vehicle license fee from $16.25 to $26.25 starting in April 2014, with the extra $2.7 million in revenue mostly going to improve the 3,700-mile trail network. For $36.25, riders also could use state trails.
The bills were sent to the GOP-controlled Senate for its consideration.
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