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HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 33
INTRODUCED BY D. HAINES, J. WITT, A. CURTISS, D. FUCHS, B. RANEY, B. THOMAS
A JOINT RESOLUTION OF THE SENATE AND THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE STATE OF MONTANA REQUESTING THE LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL TO DESIGNATE AN APPROPRIATE INTERIM COMMITTEE TO STUDY SOURCES AND LEVELS OF FUNDING FOR THE CONSERVATION AND MANAGEMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE RESOURCES AND TO STUDY THE HISTORIC AND CURRENT RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE DEPARTMENT OF FISH, WILDLIFE, AND PARKS.
WHEREAS, for nearly a century, hunters and anglers have accepted significant financial responsibility for conservation and management of wildlife in Montana; and
WHEREAS, license fees and federal excise taxes on sporting equipment have funded programs that protect wildlife habitat, ensure sound management, and provide recreational access for hunting and fishing; and
WHEREAS, in years past, when fish and wildlife management consisted mainly of counting game populations, setting seasons, and enforcing bag limits, it was appropriate that hunters and anglers paid the bill; and
WHEREAS, fish and wildlife managers must do more today than provide for the needs of hunters and anglers; and
WHEREAS, federal decisions on the listing of threatened and endangered species can have major impacts on Montana's fish and wildlife, as well as on the state's economy, and the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks needs to gather information about and manage nongame wildlife, initiate and monitor habitat protection measures, negotiate with federal agencies, and litigate issues to protect the state's rights and interests; and
WHEREAS, subdivision of rural lands is increasing the frequency and severity of life-threatening and property-damaging conflicts between people and wildlife and the Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks needs to respond to calls for assistance in mitigating those conflicts; and
WHEREAS, while the number of hunters and anglers who buy licenses is relatively stable, wildlife management costs continue to increase and current projections suggest that the general license fund balance will decline through fiscal year 2004; and
WHEREAS, future Legislatures will have to wrestle with tough issues such as whether to close the fiscal gap by drastically cutting spending, raising license fees, or finding alternative sources to pay the costs of fish and wildlife conservation in Montana; and
WHEREAS, the Legislature finds that it is clearly in the best interests of all Montanans, especially hunters and anglers, that a diverse group of Montanans should explore various sources of funding for fish and wildlife management programs and determine whether hunters and anglers should continue to accept primary financial responsibility for fish and wildlife management programs that may not directly benefit the fish and wildlife populations typically pursued by hunters and anglers.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE SENATE AND THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE STATE OF MONTANA:
That the Legislative Council be requested to designate an appropriate interim committee to:
(1) examine the historic, current, and anticipated sources and levels of funding for the conservation and management of the state's fish and wildlife resources;
(2) examine the historic responsibilities of the Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks for fish and wildlife management and conservation;
(3) examine the changing demands placed on the Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks for management of nontraditional programs, such as those for threatened and endangered species; and
(4) consider options and alternative sources to more appropriately fund necessary programs if it is determined that hunting and fishing license revenue is paying for those programs to the benefit of all Montanans.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the committee is encouraged to:
(1) solicit the participation of the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks;
(2) actively seek the involvement of Montana's hunters and anglers;
(3) appoint subcommittees as necessary; and
(4) use the staff resources of the Legislative Branch and the various agencies of state government, as well as the expertise that may be available from within the Montana University System, hunter and angler groups, and elsewhere.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the committee assigned to conduct the study shall:
(1) prepare, prior to September 15, 2000, a detailed report of its findings and conclusions on the issues assigned to it by this resolution; and
(2) submit the report to the Governor and the Legislature, as provided in 5-11-210.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that if the committee identifies and agrees to make recommendations for further legislative consideration, those recommendations must be included in the report.
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Latest Version of HJ 33 (HJ0033.ENR)
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