Legislators should work together on behalf of Wisconsin hunting, fishing and trapping mentoring programs
Why can’t legislators – and even former legislators now entrenched in the DNR – work together to come up with a mutual solution to craft a grant that will help the recruitment and retention of hunters, fishermen and trappers?
At the Sporting Heritage Council meeting on Oct. 24 in Madison it was clear that State Sen. Neal Kedzie (R-Elkhorn) and Scott Gunderson, a former Republican Assembleyman who now serves as the DNR executive assistant, resisted efforts to vote to encourage the Legislature to come up with a plan to use general tax revenue for grants to recruit outdoorsmen – really nothing that different, with some critical exceptions, from what former Republican Assemblyman Scott Suder slid into the state budget this summer.
Rep. Nick Milroy (D-New Range) had a plan that he said would still make use the $200,000 GPR that had been in the 2013-15 state budget and was funneled to the United Sportsmen of Wisconsin Foundation until Gov. Scott Walker cancelled the grant.
Milroy resisted introducing the plan as a bill in order to get bi-partisan support and input from the Sporting Heritage Council. Milroy said that although that $200,000 was meant for the United Sportsmen of Wisconsin Foundation, the money is still there and could be used if the Legislature acts.
All that is needed is for the Legislature to pass a new law to revive that $200,000 and give it – all or part – to one or several Wisconsin groups in 2013 or 2014. This new law would then include a sunset clause that says the grant ends in July, 2014 and the law will cease and desist. The original grant would have been ongoing, with no renewal action needed by the Legislature.
Had the Council endorsed Milroy's plan, it would have allowed the DNR to come up with a plan to use federal Pittman-Robertson funds that the state receives from the excise taxes already paid by hunters on a new and unique grant program for organizations that sponsor programs to recruit and retain hunters, anglers and trappers. This could begin in 2015.
The key is that this new program can not be part of a legislative initiative if Pittman-Robertson money is to be used; the idea must come from the DNR. This is why the proposal from Milroy uses general tax revenues (and neither hunting license money nor federal excise taxes) and for only this year.
It seems like a win/win proposal, but sometimes if something is proposed by one political party, the other wants nothing to do with it.
Everyone at the Sporting Heritage Council meeting Oct. 24 agreed with the concept they want some type of grants to increase participation in outdoor sports. Why can’t politicians forget partisan politics and work with the best interests of natural resources at stake?