U.S. House bill would eliminate Pittman-Robertson Act
Rep. Andrew Clyde (Ga.-9th) last week introduced legislation that would gut arguably the most important natural resources funding mechanism on the planet, the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act, the so-called Pittman-Robertson Act.
Clyde calls his bill, HF8167, the Repealing Excise Tax on Unalienable Rights Now (RETURN) our Constitutional Rights Act, and he’s got 53 co-sponsors, all fellow Republicans. The legislation would eliminate most federal excise taxes on hunting and fishing equipment.
In a press release, Clyde said the 85-year-old tax “infringes on Americans’ ability to exercise their Second Amendment rights and creates a dangerous opportunity for the government to weaponize taxation to price this unalienable right out of reach for most Americans – a threat that is materializing by the day.”
The Pittman-Robertson Act goes back to 1937 and imposes a 10 to 11% tax on firearms, ammunition, and archery equipment. It then distributes the proceeds to state governments – based on their license sales and land area – for wildlife management projects. In many states, revenues from hunting licenses and P-R dollars are the primary sources of funding for natural resources departments.
The act has been regarded as massively successful, and in the 1950s, a similar act was written for the protection of fish species – the Aid in Sports Fish Restoration Act or so-called the Dingell-Johnson Act.
In February, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced a record $1.5 billion in annual funding through the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program – which include P-R- and D-J revenues – to support state and local outdoor recreational opportunities, and wildlife and habitat conservation efforts. P-R revenues generally have been higher in recent years thanks to booming firearms and ammunition sales.
Clyde’s release notes that since the current firearms tax revenue funds beneficial programs such as hunter education and environmental care, his legislation would redirect unallocated lease revenue generated by onshore and offshore energy development on federal lands, which currently flows into the general fund, to continue funding those important programs.
There are 53 co-sponsors on the legislation and they’re listed here. Among the Outdoor News Great Lakes region states, co-sponsors include:
Mike Bost (IL-12), Rodney Davis (IL-13), Warren Davidson (OH-08), Michelle Fischbach (MN-07), Mary Miller (IL-15), Glenn Grothman, (WI-6), Daniel Meuser, (PA- 9), Scott Perry (PA-04), Elise Stefanik (NY-21), Tom Tiffany (WI-07).
You can see the complete language of the bill here.