29 May, 2014
Last week (May 22nd), the proposed Non-resident fee increase for deer hunting was quietly removed from the Ohio Senate’s version of the mid-biennium budget review (MBR). This came as a surprise as to that point the proposal submitted by ODNR had only overwhelming support from sportsmen’s groups and an apparent lack of any opposition. Previously, this fee increase had been approved by the Ohio House of Representatives as part of HB 483.
Now, the entire package of MBR legislation is in the hands of an appointed six-person conference committee, consisting of members of both chambers and both parties, that will attempt to negotiate a compromise on all the differences before the general assembly breaks for the summer.
The potential $3 million that could be generated by this increase will provide vital matching funds to recover as much of the record-high federal Pittman-Robertson funding as possible. For every firearm, bow, box of ammo, or six-pack of arrows, sportsmen and women incur an excise tax (PR) that is remitted to the federal gov’t and then reapportioned to the states based upon the number of paid hunting licenses and permits sold each year. At a ratio of 25:75, this $3 million can leverage $9 million additional dollars to be used for land acquisition from willing sellers, shooting range improvements, archery-in-the-schools programs, hunter education, and other projects beneficial to resident and non-resident sportsmen alike.
So, Steve Gray and I fashioned a concise letter, re-affirming OCF’s support for the proposed NR fee increase, and headed off to the Statehouse Thursday morning to hand deliver the message to the six conferees and both House and Senate leadership. And, we were not alone in voicing our support. OCF Member Buckeye Firearms Association sent a letter of support and OCF Partner U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance’s Adam Wright and Tony Celebrezze were knocking on office doors later in the day.
Let’s hope our collective efforts make a positive impact and get this fee increase re-instated into the MBR before time runs out.