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    USSA Opposes New Bill Diverting South Dakota License Fees
    Legislation Diverts Hunting Fees to Roads, Could Cost Millions in Federal Dollars

    The USSA is asking sportsmen in South Dakota to contact their state legislators and urge them to oppose a new bill recently introduced that could gut the state’s ability to manage its wildlife.
    House Bill 1002, sponsored by Representative Kent Juhnke (R- Vivian), proposes that $1 for every hunting license sold by the Department of Game, Fish, and Parks be sent to a new fund in the state treasury to be used by counties for road repair. If passed as drafted, HB 1002 could raise $600,000 annually for roads. The wildlife department Secretary, Jeff Vonk, has indicated that his agency is not supportive of the bill.

    There are several reasons for the opposition. Most importantly, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued an opinion that HB 1002 would be considered a “diversion” of license fees. That would be a violation of federal law, risking the loss of $10 million in federal dollars that went to the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish, and Parks in 2008. The loss of that federal money would devastate South Dakota’s ability to manage its wildlife.

    Additionally, in news reports, Vonk was quoted saying that sportsmen already pay for road repairs through fuel taxes at the pump and that the bill “seems like a double hit.”

    “Secretary Vonk is on target when he calls this a double hit for sportsmen,” said Rick Story, Executive Vice President of the USSA. Story continued, “In some ways it could be seen as a triple hit. Sportsmen pay fuel taxes like everyone else and expect their hunting fees to pay for helping wildlife. They don’t expect those fees to go to asphalt while getting gypped out of millions in federal funds at the same time.”

    South Dakota sportsmen should contact their local legislators and tell them that the state can’t afford to lose $10 million for conservation and that it is unfair for sportsmen to take a hit for repairing roads when they already pay fuel taxes. To find your legislators, go to the USSA Legislative Action Center by Clicking Here.
    Saltwater Fishing Articles & More by Outdoor Writer Jerry LaBella