Hunting, fishing fees likely to rise
Vehicle registration might also go up
By STEVEN WALTERS and LEE BERGQUIST
Posted: Sept. 21, 2004
Middleton - Gov. Jim Doyle said Tuesday that he plans to recommend higher hunting and fishing fees in his budget next year and that he will consider raising the $55 annual vehicle registration fee.
"I think you're going to see a modest increase, as we've proposed before, in hunting and fishing fees," Doyle told reporters after speaking to a conference of state road builders and contractors who are lobbying for more construction tax dollars.
He did not say what exact increases he will recommend. But some hunting and fishing fees "haven't been raised in quite a number of years and are clearly (going toward) habitat protection," Doyle said.
The $20 annual gun and archery licenses to hunt deer have not changed since 1997, according to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau. But two fishing licenses were raised this year - the annual resident fee went from $14 to $17, and the husband/wife license went from $24 to $29.
In 2003, Doyle expected the number of gun and archery hunting licenses would drop dramatically because of chronic wasting disease in deer, so he called for raising both those fees to $32 - increases legislators rejected. Then, he also recommended higher fishing license fees than those that finally became law.
The drop in the number of hunting licenses sold was not as bad as officials first thought, however.
Doyle has said he will not raise general state taxes to pay for the difficult 2005-'07 budget caused by an uncertain economy and health care deficits. But he drew a distinction Tuesday between income and sales taxes and individual fees charged to pay for specific services.
"The crucial thing about a fee is that it not be a disguised tax increase," Doyle said. "A fee is actually supposed to support the cost of a service."
State Rep. Dean Kaufert (R-Neenah), co-chairman of the Legislature's Joint Finance Committee, said Doyle's plan to raise hunting and fishing license fees could win legislative approval.
Kaufert said he was surprised at the backlash when the Legislature did not go along with increases Doyle recommended in 2003. Gradual increases in hunting and fishing fees every two years are better than much larger jumps every six or eight years, he said.
"The sportsmen of this state are a different breed," Kaufert said. "They'll pay - if they believe they are getting their dollar's worth."
Fee increases backed
The leaders of two influential sporting groups Tuesday said their organizations support an increase in those fees.
"If you want to maintain our rich natural resources, there comes a time when there has to be a fee increase," said Steve Oestreicher, chairman of the Wisconsin Conservation Congress, which advises the state Department of Natural Resources.
"We hope, this time, the Legislature takes a closer look at it," Oestreicher said.
George Meyer, executive director of the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, agreed.
"Hunters and anglers want good hunting and fishing, and they are willing to pay for it," said Meyer, a former secretary of the DNR. The federation represents 89 hunting and fishing groups.
Unlike in early 2003, Meyer said, lawmakers may be ready to raise hunting and fishing fees.
Then, the DNR was just beginning to fight chronic wasting disease in Wisconsin's wild deer population, and it approved statewide emergency rules banning the use of bait for deer hunting. The rules also made it illegal for people to feed deer, thought to be one method of transmitting the disease.
The emergency rules angered some hunters and people who fed deer, and they complained to lawmakers, who retaliated by going after the increases in hunting fees, Meyer said. "The fee increases were used as a political tool," he said.
The restrictions on baiting and feeding have been relaxed since then.
The proposed 2005-'07 budget for the DNR does not include any increased hunting and fishing fees. That budget was scheduled to be voted on the DNR board today in Sturgeon Bay.
Not sure what it's going to mean but I hope the DNR tells him to FUCK OFF!!!
"I voted against the amendment because I believe that prohibiting certain types of weapons is problamatic. "
-Sen Feingold about an amendment to S.1805, which did not pass, that would renew the AWB