Fee increase moving

Joe AlbertA plan to hike fishing and hunting license fees, which hasn’t been done on a general scale since 2001, won unanimous approval from a key Senate committee on Tuesday.

The Environment and Natural Resources Committee approved of the plan, offered by committee chair Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria, that, among other things, would increase the annual cost for a resident fishing license from $17 to $22.
Ingebrigtsen’s plan is similar to one the DNR and Gov. Mark Dayton have pushed, and that was included in Dayton’s supplemental budget proposal, which he unveiled Monday of this week.

The DNR’s plan would generate about $14 million for the Game and Fish Fund. Ingebrigtsen’s plan would raise $11 million for the fund, which pays for much of the fish and wildlife management in the state. On its current course, the fund will be in the red by July of 2013.

A variety of groups have signaled their support for the license-fee increase, and former Vikings coach Bud Grant testified in favor of it at this week’s meeting.
Still, its fate is far from certain.

It still faces hurdles in the Senate, and a companion bill hasn’t yet been offered in the House. Some leaders in that body have said they support the increase and Rep. Tom Hackbarth, R-Cedar, said he expected the Republican Caucus to offer a proposal of some sort. The House environment committee discussed fee increases on Thursday, but ultimately took no action.

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