Several years back, West Virginia passed a constitutional amendment to protect its hunting and fishing license fees from being utilized for other purposes.
This may just seem logical to the license buying public but we should never underestimate its importance. Back then it was simply and accurately described in street terms as the “keepa-u-hands off” bill and everyone knew exactly what that meant. It seems like some sort of a sequel is presently brewing per budgetary matters at the, you guessed it, federal level.
With the massive national debt, deficit spending and the pending fiscal cliff looming, Happy New Year 2013 just might not be such a joyous occasion.
That is, if the federal excise taxes that sportsmen and women pay on sporting arms, ammunition, fishing and boating are “sequestered.” That’s the piece of federal legislation that attempts to abruptly get decades of drunken-sailor like spending rectified per the failure to make any other notable erstwhile progress on the situation.
The funds we’re talking about are specifically those authorized and now immortalized by the Pittman-Robertson, Dingell-Johnson and Wallop-Breaux legislations as essentially somewhat self-imposed per the widespread bi-partisan support of the hunting, fishing and boating public, respectively.
Some of this famous legislation dates back to the 1930s and conservation Godfathers from Ding Darling to Aldo Leopold. They have and continue to be a backbone of wildlife conservation and law enforcement funding for the states.
These funds are portioned back to the states per formulas based upon their license sales, population and respective land or water masses. Folks might also recall that the recently enacted West Virginia senior lifetime license was implemented ostensibly to capture the “gray-haired” head count.
That so as to get the Mountain State’s fair share of these excise taxes our seniors had been paying but the state losing out on. Formerly, those 65 years of age and older were exempt from West Virginia licensing.
Much of this federal funding could now be in jeopardy if certain percentages of the state share are held back or sequestered. Though these funds are clearly earmarked for wildlife purposes, one legal opinion indicated that even if they may be exempt from sequestration they weren’t necessarily exempt from appropriation! Ouch!
Folks may thus want to get on the horn to our federal Senators Manchin and Rockefeller or Representatives Capito, McKinley and Rahall to raise the red flag regarding these longtime, limited outdoor dollars. This might also be a good time to bring up the issue of hikers, bikers, birders, campers and a prime opportunity for them to kick in some cash on their gear and accessories a la the hunters, anglers and boaters.
That could be for some additional famous outdoor legislation from a West Virginia source to boot!
P.S. Bob Fala’s recent book, Ramblin’ Outdoors includes several old photos and accounts form these pages and is available at the Logan Banner or on-line at Woodland Press.