Thursday, September 13, 2018

Pittman-Robertson Fund Modernization Bill Passes U.S. House

Since 1937 an excise tax has been placed on outdoor related products in regards to hunting.  Hunters may know it as the Pittman-Robertson Act and this program was so successful in the 1950s Congress enacted the Dingell–Johnson Act.  Regardless of what you call it now, this is hunting and fishing conservation at it's best.  Money collected is given to the Secretary of the Interior and then divided among the states using a formula that takes into account both a state's size and number of licensed hunters. In 2018, Illinois received over $22.9 million from these funds. 

United States Capitol Building
United States Capitol Building 
Photo Credit: Capitol Outdoors

On September 12, 2018 the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 2591, the Modernizing the Pittman-Robertson Fund for Tomorrow's Needs Act of 2017, on a voice vote.

Introduced by Congressman Austin Scott of Georgia, HR 2591 would help increase flexibility for state wildlife agencies allowing the use of Pittman-Robertson (P-R) funds for the recruitment of hunters and recreational shooters.  Adding this flexibility would ensure the long-term viability of revenue sources that fund state-based fish and wildlife conservation across the country.

Without establishing new taxes or fees, H.R. 2591 would expand the Multistate Conservation Grant Program by providing an additional $5 million annually from archery-related excise taxes. This legislation would also place a cap on the amount of funds that can be spent on hunter and recreational shooter recruitment to ensure wildlife conservation remains the primary focus of P-R funds.

"With a national decline in outdoor recreational activities, Pittman-Robertson funds are shrinking and our state and local habitats are suffering, which is why I have been fighting to give states more flexibility in how they use their PR funds and hopefully attract more Americans to the outdoors in the process," said Rep. Scott. "I am very pleased the House passed my PR modernization bill, and I thank Chairman Rob Bishop for his commitment to this legislation as well as to sportsmen and women across the country. As this bill heads to be considered in the Senate, I will keep pressing until our decades-old wildlife conservation funding model receives the critical updates it deserves."

In May, H.R. 2591 passed out of the House Natural Resources Committee on unanimous consent. The Senate companion bill, S. 1613, which is sponsored by Senators Jim Risch (ID), Joe Manchin (WV), Deb Fischer (NE), and Heidi Heitkamp (ND), awaits a hearing in the Environment and Public Works Committee.

Want to know more about Pittman-Robertson Act read one of our old articles.

*The Congressional Sportsmen Foundation provided the context for this post

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