I’ve been thinking about.......DNR’s proposal to raise some hunting and fishing license fees.
Should license fees be increased? Or, not?
Opinions might vary but I do know this:
Minnesota hunters and anglers DESERVE a legislative debate (hearings, etc.) about DNR’s need for an increase and what those fees might be. However, according to media reports, legislative insiders say the idea of raising fees in a Republican-controlled Legislature is already a dead issue.
No discussion. No debate. No nothing.
Republican Party chairman Tony Sutton reportedly sent a letter to Republican legislators warning them that raising anything, including license fees, would violate Republican principles.
Whoa. Let’s pause here for a second.
Tony Sutton is certainly entitled to his opinion. So are the rest of us.
But I don’t recall seeing Tony Sutton’s name on the ballot last fall; which means he wasn’t elected to represent anybody in Minnesota.
On the contrary, Minnesota voters did send Republicans and Democrats to the Legislature to, hopefully, do what’s best for Minnesota. And that includes exploring the need for more revenue for the DNR’s fish and wildlife programs that are largely supported by license revenue via the Game and Fish Fund.
DNR says the Fund will go into the red by 2014.
The point is this: I don’t think there’s a hunter or angler in Minnesota who wants the Game and Fish Fund to go broke. Not on our watch.
I don’t think there’s a license buyer out there who wants to see the state’s hunting and fishing opportunities decline.
In essence, a license to hunt or fish is nothing more than a user fee. And those of us who pay that fee have long debated about how the money is spent and how much is spent and how much is wasted and so forth. This is democracy in action.
We can also agree or disagree on the need for higher fees. No problem. But our lawmakers also should have the same discussion.
We deserve it. We also have 18 fewer conservation officers in the field, which is only a good thing if you’re a poacher.
Hunting license revenue is subsidizing DNR fish management programs because of budget imbalances. That needs to be corrected.
The DNR’s proposed license fee increases also seem to reveal something else about us. Unlike a few neighboring states, Minnesota doesn’t play the game of gouge the nonresident very well.
For a seasonal nonresident fishing license, DNR is suggesting a $44 fee. A Minnesotan in South Dakota has to pay $62 to fish; Wisconsin charges $50.
To hunt ruffed grouse or pheasants in Minnesota, DNR proposes a $97 fee for nonresidents; South Dakota charges $114 for pheasants and $75 for three days of waterfowl hunting.
A nonresident deer hunter in Minnesota would pay $160 under DNR’s proposal. To hunt deer in North Dakota, a Minnesotan must pay $200; in Iowa, $529.
The average ticket price to watch a Vikings football game is $110. It’s valid for one afternoon.
The price of a seasonal resident Minnesota fishing license is $17; DNR would like to raise it seven bucks....which is roughly what a beer costs at the football game.
So what’s our pleasure? More beer or more walleyes?
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