Sunday, January 29th, 2023
Sunday, January 29th, 2023

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Sportsmen Since 1967

Sales tax proposal could help fund DNR

Mount Clemens, Mich. – State Rep. Joel Sheltrown, D-West Branch,
is drumming up support for a proposal that would allow sportsmen to
continue to fund the lion’s share of the DNR budget, while not
costing them anything more than what they’re paying now.

“I’m proposing that (the state) put one-sixth of the sales tax
collected on sporting goods into the DNR,” Sheltrown told the crowd
at a town hall meeting Jan. 18 at the Huntin’ Time Expo East
outdoors show in Mount Clemens. “It’s similar to what they do in
Texas.”

HB 5629, which was referred to the House Tax Policy Committee,
would earmark one-sixth ($0.01) of the state tax charged on the
sale of sporting goods for the Michigan Conservation and Recreation
Legacy Fund. That fund was created by voters in 2006 and helps
finance hunting and fishing programs, state forest campgrounds,
state parks, and snowmobile, ORV, and waterways programs.

“The $10 million (balance in the DNR’s Game and Fish Protection
Fund) will get us through this year, but next year we’re right back
in the hole again,” Sheltrown told Michigan Outdoor News. “I think
this is a far better way to do it than to raise (hunting and
fishing) license fees. The best thing about it is that sportsmen
would fund it, but it wouldn’t cost them anything else,” because
they’re already paying the tax now.

Sheltrown, chairman of the House Tourism, Outdoor Recreation and
Natural Resources Committee, said the bill would generate
approximately $20 million annually.

“A (hunting and fishing) license fee increase would generate
about $17 million,” he said. “This (legislation) would generate $20
million and we wouldn’t have to raise license fees.

“My biggest issue is that there would have to be some sort of
assurances as to what the money would be used for. I’d want to see
things like more stocking of inland lakes and improvements to deer
habitat. There are a number of things we need to look at.”

Sheltrown said he patterned his legislation after Texas’
sporting goods tax. The entire 6.25 percent of Texas’ sales tax on
sporting goods is dedicated to outdoor programs. Texas law caps the
amount at $32 million, but over $100 million is collected
annually.

Sheltrown’s legislation uses Texas’ definition of sporting goods
to include, “an item of tangible, personal property designed and
sold for use in a sport or sporting activity, and excluding apparel
and footwear except that which is suitable only for use in a sport
or sporting activity, and excluding board games, electronic games,
and similar devices, aircraft and powered vehicles, and replacement
parts and accessories for any excluded item.”

“The only problem with dedicated funding,” Sheltrown said, “is
that you lose some of the oversight you have with fees. Right now,
they (DNR) have to come to the Legislature and we have
oversight.”

A committee, composed of two state senators, two state
representatives, the DNR director and the NRC chairman, is being
formed to look at long-term funding for the DNR.

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