HB1196 was introduced by Rep. Pete Silbernagle (R-Casselton), and if passed it would have added current or retired National Guard members to the list of people who get reduced fishing and fur bearer hunting permits.
The bill got a “do not pass” recommendation from the House Natural Resources Committee on a 12-0 vote (1 member absent), and bill carrier Rep. Dick Anderson (R-Willow City) explained that the recommendation was based mostly on concern over revenues.
The North Dakota Game & Fish Department basically runs on user fees. Their revenues come from people who buy hunting and fishing licenses. This exemption, they believed, would have been too costly and the bill made no appropriation to replace the revenue. In the fiscal note attached to the bill, Game & Fish estimated that they’d have a couple of thousand people taking advantage of the exemption, something they said would cost north of $72,000 in the 2015-2017 biennium and over $144,000 in the 2017-2019 biennium.
With revenues for the Game & Fish Department already shaky – that’s why lawmakers have been approving increases in fees charged by the department – the thinking was that this was too much money to give away.
Rep. Todd Porter (R-Mandan) also made a good point: “What do you tell the veteran who served in Iraq in the regular army?” he asked.
Since this exemption would only apply to National Guard members, that’s a good point. And expanding it to all veterans would be too costly, probably driving fees for non-veterans up dramatically.
Porter had to preface his argument, though, by saying that nobody on his committee which gave the negative recommendation to the bill is unappreciative of the service of National Guard members. The politics around these bills targeting veterans are always interesting. It’s hard to shoot down bad policy – and I think this bill was bad policy – when there’s a knee-jerk belief that opposition means a lack of respect for the military.