April 9, 2009 in Sports

Outdoors bill out of committee

Allen Thomas The Vancouver Columbian
 

Sportsmen in Washington soon may find themselves with lighter wallets, a chance to fish with two poles and at least a couple of new wildlife commissioners.

Substitute House Bill 1778 moved out of the Senate Ways and Means Committee on Monday with a potpourri of items dealing with hunting and fishing.

The bill allows the Department of Fish and Wildlife to charge an additional transaction fee of no more than 10 percent for licenses, permits, stamps, tags and raffles in the 2009-11 budget period.

If you buy a freshwater-fishing license ($21.90), plus a deer and elk hunting license ($61.32), that could mean up to an extra $8.32.

Tom Davis, legislative liaison for the agency, said the fee is expected to generate $6.6 million for the department, which, like the rest of state government, is facing deep budget cuts.

The bill also includes authorization for a two-pole stamp, allowing an angler to fish with two rods at the same time.

The Fish and Wildlife Commission would designate which lakes are open for two poles.

The two-pole stamp would cost $20 for most anglers and $5 for state residents age 70 and older.

The bill continues the attack on the nine-member state Fish and Wildlife Commission, although the amendments added Monday by the Ways and Means Committee water down an earlier version.

The commission would be reduced from nine members to seven, and their terms would be four years instead of the current six.

They would have to come from different regions, which means current commissioners George Orr of Spokane and Gary Douvia, who lists his residence at Kettle Falls, would not be allowed to serve on the panel at the same time.

The major issue is that the bill would remove authority of the commission to hire and fire the Department of Fish and Wildlife director and give it to the governor.

Commission members would still be the final authority on hunting, fishing and trapping seasons, food fish and shellfish management, plus “tribal, interstate, international, and any other department agreements relating to fish and wildlife.”

This appears to be an awkward setup where the director has two bosses – the governor and a policy-setting commission.


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