Sunset provision added to House bill which would raise saltwater license fees

HB 1082 to be heard by Natural Resources committee on Wednesday, April 23

A 4-year sunset provision has been added to House Bill 1082, which would increase a Louisiana resident’s saltwater fishing license fee from $5.50 to $13.00 and create a Saltwater Fish Research and Conservation Fund, officials said.

Rep. Stuart Bishop (R-Lafayette) said Thursday he added the provision as a safeguard to make sure the funding would be used as intended, and to give legislators four years from now the opportunity to review the program’s progress.

“In four  years from now we’re going to have a new governor, we’re obviously going to have new legislators because some people are termed out and people aren’t going to run for reelection, and I wanted to make sure that the money is going to the right place,” Bishop said. “And if I’m not there, I want to make sure everybody is able to look at the facts and decide whether we’re doing the right thing with it.

“I want the Natural Resources committee to be able to sit down and look at it and make sure the money is being well spent.”

David Cresson, executive director of Coastal Conservation Association Louisiana, which is supporting the legislation, said with the sunset provision, the law would have to be reauthorized in four years.

“It doesn’t make it a law in perpetuity, which is a good safeguard against it being misused,” Cresson said. “If it’s not working exactly as envisioned, it will expire and the fee will go back to what it is now.”

Randy Pausina, head of fisheries with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, said recently the funding generated if the bill passes could be used for the LA Creel program, which would allow LDWF to collect more precise recreational harvest data than ever before.

On Jan. 1 of this year, the state stopped its participation in the federal Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP), which is used by NOAA Fisheries officials to estimate red snapper recreational landings in the Gulf of Mexico.

Bishop, who said he still plans on being a member of the House in four years, said he hasn’t personally spoken to anyone opposed to the measure, but said he’s heard complaints stemming from a mistrust of state government.

“They’re concerned about the abuse that has happened in the past,” Bishop said. “I just want them to understand I’m doing this for the fisherman. I ‘m not doing it for government.

“I’m doing it as a fisherman myself. That’ s why I put the sunset on it just so we can revisit it.”

The bill appears on the Committee on Natural Resources and Environment’s agenda for next Wednesday, April 23. The committee is scheduled to meet at 9:30 a.m. in Committee Room 4 at the Louisiana State Capitol.

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Patrick Bonin is the former editor of Louisiana Sportsman magazine and