(TX) Bill invites military to hunt and fish for free


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Drizzt
May 21, 2005, 02:14 AM
Bill invites military to hunt and fish for free
On Sept. 1, active-duty personnel in Texas qualify for license

By SHANNON TOMPKINS

The Texas Legislature believes the state owes active-duty military personnel living in Texas a free hunting or fishing license.

A bill they sent the governor would do just that.

Under terms of House Bill 1076 introduced by Rep. Joe Crabb, R-Kingwood, and co-sponsored by seven other legislators, active-duty military personnel based in Texas would be able to obtain a state hunting or fishing license for no fee.

Currently, qualified disabled veterans are the only group exempt from hunting and fishing license fees.

Texas holds 100,000 to 125,000 active-duty military personnel, with that number varying depending on many factors. The Legislative Budget Board reported 114,196 active-duty military personnel were located in Texas as of Sept. 30.

$800,000 in lost revenue
Exempting resident, active-duty military personnel from the $23 annual hunting license and the $28-$45 (depending on version and fishing stamps included) annual fishing license stands to cost Texas Parks and Wildlife Department a maximum of about $800,000 a year, the LBB estimated.

That estimate is based on military personnel buying hunting and fishing licenses in the same proportion as the general population, the LBB noted.

The $800,000 state officials figure will be lost by exempting active-duty military personnel from license fees represents less than 1 percent of the $111.6 million estimated as annual revenue into Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's Fund 9, the fund into which all license fees are deposited.

The license fee exemption will take effect Sept. 1.

Active-duty military personnel stationed in Texas have for years qualified to purchase resident hunting and fishing licenses.

But this past autumn, issues surfaced centering on National Guard and reserve military personnel transferred to Texas as part of the military's shuffling of troops to foreign theaters.

Regulations were unclear if those Guard and reserve troops called to duty stations in Texas qualified to purchase resident hunting or fishing licenses.

TPWD officials quickly moved to clarify the rules, allowing any National Guard or reserve personnel called to active duty and sent to Texas to qualify for a resident license.

Personnel in those Guard and reserve units will qualify for the license-fee exemption set to take effect after this year.

A no-go this session
Two pieces of legislation aimed at giving special outdoors-related perks to military and former military personnel appear dead for this session of the Legislature.

House Bill 552 by Rep. Larry Phillips, R-Sherman, would exempt all active-duty members of the military and all veterans with an honorable discharge from Texas' hunter education requirements.

Under current Texas law, all hunters older than 17 and born on or after Sept. 2, 1971 must have taken and passed a state-certified hunter education course or purchased a one-time, one-season exemption from that requirement.

The hunter education course includes instruction in firearms safety, hunting regulations, hunting ethics, private property laws, wildlife conservation and management and other hunting-related topics.

The course, which carries a $10 fee, is taught by volunteer instructors and typically involves classroom and field work over a two-day period.

But students also can take the "classroom" portion of the course at home via a videotape/instructional booklet package, then attend a short field course overseen by a certified instructor.

More than 700,000 people have completed Texas' hunter education course since it began in 1988.

No break for veterans
While the hunter education requirement involves much more than firearms safety training, that portion of the course appears to have had a hand in greatly reducing the number of hunting-related accidents involving firearms.

During the 10-year period 1966-75, Texas annually averaged 84.5 firearms-related hunting accidents and 23.4 fatalities.

Over the past decade, 1995-2004, the state averaged 40.9 firearms-related accidents and 4.3 fatalities.

Phillips' bill exempting veterans and active-duty military personnel from the state's hunter education requirement made it out of committee, but died awaiting a vote by the full House.

Senate Bill 1288 by Sen. Eddie Lucio, D-Brownsville, would have exempted all veterans of military service residents and non-residents from hunting and fishing license fees.

Such an exemption would have a considerable impact on TPWD wildlife and fisheries programs, as license fees provide the bulk of funding for conservation work in the state. State officials estimate Texas is home to 1.8 million to 2 million veterans.

Lucio's bill went nowhere, failing even to get a hearing in committee.

Uncertain future
While both bills appear moribund, nothing is certain just yet.

During the final weeks of the legislative session, bills that have no hope of passage on their own regularly are offered as amendments to bills being considered for passage on the House or Senate floor.

With specific exceptions, May 25 is the final day Texas legislators can pass legislation. The session officially ends May 30.

http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/ssistory.mpl/outdoors/3190396

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Leatherneck
May 21, 2005, 07:13 AM
Exempting Vets and active-duty folks from the fee would be a nice gesture, and very welcome in military families with low incomes.

This part I don't agree with:
House Bill 552 by Rep. Larry Phillips, R-Sherman, would exempt all active-duty members of the military and all veterans with an honorable discharge from Texas' hunter education requirements.

Some military folks are no doubt skiled and cautious with weapons, but many are not. There should be no exemption from training.

TC

Preacherman
May 21, 2005, 11:41 AM
Oh, I don't know, Leatherneck... I can just see some artillery type collecting his season limit instantaneously with a 155mm. fragmentation round! :D

Lennyjoe
May 21, 2005, 12:28 PM
I agree with Leatherneck on the hunters safety course.

Personally, I dont mind paying the fees for hunting as long as the fees are going back to such things as wildlife conservation, land purchases for hunting and waterfowl wetland restoration.

Azrael256
May 21, 2005, 04:46 PM
I agree with Leatherneck as well. Hunter safety is awfully important.

I sat in DFW airport and watched the entire 23rd infantry walk by (ok, it was maybe thirty of them, but it seemed like a whole bunch), and was disturbed by the fact that many soldiers were paying their own way home on leave. When my brother came home on leave, the army flew him to Baltimore, and he paid his way to Dallas. It wasn't terribly expensive, and he had plenty of combat pay to deal with it, but I can't help but think that we don't do enough to give those boys the little perks they deserve. Frankly, I don't think we could possibly give them all that they deserve (seeing as they gave us everything we have), but giving them free hunting licenses, marriage licenses, exempting them from taxes, etc. seems like a good start.

Hkmp5sd
May 21, 2005, 05:25 PM
Sorry, but I don't agree with seperating American citizens into classes and giving certain classes benefits that the rest do not enjoy. If military pay is so low they cannot afford to purchase hunting licenses, then increase their pay. I do agree with treating military personnel stationed in a state as residents of that state for such things as licenses because they do in fact "live" there.

As a side note, can you imagine the uproar if the phrase "active-duty military personnel based in Texas" is replaced with "sworn law enforcement officer with jurisdiction in Texas"??

RevDisk
May 21, 2005, 06:03 PM
It's a nice gesture. It really is. But I agree with other posters. Unless the soldier is below the proverty line (you'd be surprised how many are), most of us would have no problem coughing up $23 for a tag. I'd prefer that cash went towards conservation, personally.


That estimate is based on military personnel buying hunting and fishing licenses in the same proportion as the general population, the LBB noted.

Uh huh. Did it figure into the equation how many of these soldiers are deployed or making preperations to deploy to Iraq/Afghanistan or the hundred plus other countries we have service folks deployed to?

I think their estimate is probably way off.


As a side note, can you imagine the uproar if the phrase "active-duty military personnel based in Texas" is replaced with "sworn law enforcement officer with jurisdiction in Texas"??

Nope. I generally dislike people trying to create different classes, but I don't get in too much of an uproar unless the military/LEO are given rights that are denied to civilians. This bill would not ban civilians from hunting.

Personally, I think a discount would be a better idea than a free ride. Discounts to mil (or LEO for that matter) folks generally don't hurt the bottom line, and usually encourage more business.

jefnvk
May 21, 2005, 07:59 PM
It is a nice gesture, it really is. But I'm with the ones saying that it isn't appropriate. I could probably go with active duty serving in Texas getting free licenses, but not veterans of any service, being residents of any state.

But since I am not a Texan, I'm gonna say do what you want.

However, I still don't see why I need a permit to hunt on my own land.

paternoster2012
May 21, 2005, 09:57 PM
you need a permit to hunt on your own land because the animals migrate on and off your land

whats keeping you from harvesting 100 deer all year yound leaving none for your neighbors, and other similar examples

as someone who depends on state land to hunt it effects me since my family owns only the property in a small town which is less than an acre

paternoster2012
May 21, 2005, 09:58 PM
Actually I just realized you live in midland

I live in Mt pleasant and would be more than willing to help you thin out those critters on your land wink wink nudge nudge

rwc
May 21, 2005, 10:07 PM
Sounds like a nice thought, but without access to private land it's pretty useless. As I recall Tejas has very little public land.

And any deer that happened to die in my vacinity one Thanksgiving day at a family ranch 20 odd yearss ago was only a coincidence...

jefnvk
May 21, 2005, 11:38 PM
I live in Mt pleasant and would be more than willing to help you thin out those critters on your land wink wink nudge nudge

Unfortunately now during deer season, I am in Houghton, so I'm bumming deer off the paper companies land :D

Even so, we don't have many deer to thin. Subdivisions a few miles back are taking care of that problem.

And you'd be suprised at the number of deer taken in some places. Landowner permits are a big thing for farmers, dozens of deer killed on one piece of property is not unheard of. Not even uncommon.

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