Increased funding is needed to protect and improve our fisheries, yet legislative leaders are ignoring anglers’ request for a small fee increase to maintain quality fishing. The legislative session ends Sunday, BUT CALLS TODAY CAN TURN THE TIDE. Tomorrow may be too late. Please take 2 minutes and place short calls (or send e mails) to key leaders today. Your message to them can be this simple: Include the DNR fishing and hunting fee increases in the final budget bills. A 30 second message left with staff will do. Contact these leaders today:
1. Speaker of the House Kurt Daudt – (651) 296-5364
2. Rep. Dan Fabian – (651) 296-9635
3. Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka – (651) 296-4875
4. Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen – (651) 297-8063
While calls are likely best due to time constraints, if you prefer to e mail them here are their addresses:
Why the fee increase is needed this year:
Fisheries management is paid for by fishing license fees and federal excise tax on fishing gear purchases. Declining purchasing power and rising costs mean the DNR must get additional revenue approved this spring or begin cutting fisheries management this summer. The state fund which receives this revenue and pays for fisheries management will go into the red in 2019. State law prohibits this, so fisheries programs must be cut unless revenue is increased. Due to the state’s 2 year budgeting cycle and 8 month lag in any license fee increase, the Legislature must act thisspring or fisheries management activities will be cut beginning in July.
A 25 member citizen oversight committee which scrutinizes DNR spending each year has found fish and wildlife spending is efficient and at bare bones levels. They requested DNR developed the proposed fee increases. The proposal is to increase annual fishing licenses by $3, from $22 to $25, and increase deer hunting licenses from $30 to $34. These increases would ensure the solvency of the fund for several years, and keep fisheries programs funded at least at their current levels.
Buffer law still under attack!
The Omnibus Environment bill (HF 888) included provisions gutting the 2015 buffer law and rolling back the decades old 50 foot buffer requirements on trout streams and other public waters. Governor Dayton vetoed that bad bill for several good reasons, including this rollback on stream buffers. Calls or e mails are needed over the next 24 hours urging no more changes to the buffer law. Points you could make:
- Compliance is high already, a growing season or two before the deadlines (the law is working)
- The proposed changes are unfair to the large majority of landowners who have already adopted good practices
- One provision actually reduces the decades old requirement of 50 foot buffer on public waters (including trout streams) to a mere 16.5 feet on 70% of public waters!
- The Governor has already made (too many) major concessions since 2015 including:
- Reducing buffer widths on ditches from 50 feet to 16.5 feet
- Dropping buffer requirements entirely for private ditches
- Dropping DNR enforcement authority entirely
- Putting numerous alternative practices in writing
Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka recently indicated that his caucus is still pressing for the buffer law changes in HF 888, despite the Governor’s veto. Please consider adding this message in your calls and e mails: Leave the buffer law alone. It is working and more changes are unfair to the large majority of landowners who already have them in place.
Leadership and members of the conference committee need to be told to leave the buffer law alone:
Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka – (651) 296-48751 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Speaker of the House Kurt Daudt – (651) 296-5364 or email@example.com
Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen – (651) 297-8063 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Sen. Carrie Ruud – (651) 296-4913 or email@example.com
Sen. Torrey Westrom – (651) 296-3826 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Sen. Andrew Matthews – (651) 296-8075 or email@example.com
Sen. David Tomassoni – (651) 296-8017 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Dan Fabian – (651) 296-9635 or email@example.com
Rep. Josh Heintzeman – (651) 651-296-4333 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Chris Swedzinski – (651) 296-8017 or email@example.com
Rep. Mark Uglem (651) 296-5513 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Rob Ecklund (651) 296-2190 or email@example.com