The following is an update regarding the status of the Sportsman’s Act of 2012 (S. 3525). It gives a little more information on what is being done to bring S. 3525 up for another vote. There is still time to contact Senator Roberts to urge him to support the transfer the Sodsaver provision of the Farm Bill into S. 3525 to offset 3525’s expenses. If you have any questions, please let me know. Thanks.
Conservation Vice President
Kansas Wildlife Federation
Conservation Vice President
Kansas Wildlife Federation
Kansas Conservation Coalition
I want to take this opportunity to give you an update on the status of an important piece of legislation that you may have read about this week in some news outlets – The Sportsmen’s Act of 2012 (S. 3525) sponsored by Senator Jon Tester (D-MT).
We have been working closely with Senator Tester’s office on this bill. Last week, the bill was brought up on the Senate floor and was expected to receive final vote consideration on Monday evening. Unfortunately, instead of it passing by an anticipated comfortable vote margin, the entire Republican caucus, lead by Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) used the bill to pick a fight with the Democrats over budget politics.
The Senate attack claimed the bill’s action to raise the price of the Duck Stamp (paid by waterfowl hunters since 1935 to protect habitat and provide access) is a “tax” thus subject to arcane rules that would in essence scuttle the bill’s chance to advance. This point of order was sustained when a 50-44 vote failed to reach the required 60 votes to overturn it. As a result, the Tester bill is frozen from further consideration unless and until the issues are resolved.
Senate members have had closed-door discussions going on today to try to craft a solution so the bill doesn’t die. We’ll know early next week whether this can be resolved.
The Sportsmen’s Act contains a number of bi-partisan proposals that will have significant benefits for hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation. It is supported by many groups including Ducks Unlimited, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and Pheasants Forever.
In addition to the Duck Stamp increase, the bill will require 1.5% of the Land and Water Conservation Fund to be used to provide public access to currently inaccessible federal public lands for hunting and fishing. It will expand the Migratory Bird Habitat Investment and Enhancement Act and the Permanent Electronic Duck Stamp Act to allow the Secretary of the Interior to direct resources for the conservation of bird species and improve sportsmen access. It will reauthorize the Federal Land Transaction and Facilitation Act (FLTFA) that will benefit conservation. It will reauthorize the North American Wetlands Conservation Act – a program, which has protected 26.5 million acres. And it will reauthorize the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation which was recently tasked with distributing funds for Gulf restoration from BP’s criminal suit settlement.
As we all know, legislation is imperfect and can sometimes include undesirable provisions among its good qualities. One provision in the Tester bill that NWF opposed was language that would exempt EPA from regulating lead toxics in sporting ammunition and fishing tackle. NWF has several conservation policy resolutions passed by our state affiliates that call for the phase out of lead in the environment, including sporting equipment. We were unsuccessful in persuading Tester to drop this NRA supported provision from his bill, but have been clear in that we would continue to look for future opportunities to correct this provision. In spite of our difference on this one issue, NWF strongly supports the underlying bill and deplores the political shenanigans that may scuttle it for this congressional session.
Streamed below is a related Washington Post article which notes NWF’s support.
We will continue to be deeply engaged in this issue and will update you as conditions merit.
Larry J. Schweiger – President and CEO
National Wildlife Federation
The Washington Post
Senators try to bring back Sportsmen’s Act
November 29, 2012
A bipartisan conservation bill remained in limbo this week as Senate Republicans and Democrats worked to resolve GOP objections over the measure’s budgetary implications. The Sportsmen’s Act of 2012, a collection of 17 bills aimed at protecting habitat and providing better access for hunters and anglers, failed on a vote of 50 to 44 Monday night after Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) complained that the bill violated Senate budget rules.
The measure would raise the price of duck stamps, which hunters affix to their hunting licenses, to $25 from $15. Because the federal government uses the proceeds from the stamps to buy wetlands used by waterfowl, the Congressional Budget Office estimated this would mean $132 million in new spending in the next decade. Sessions argued that this expenditure would violate the Budget Control Act of 2011, which set spending caps on congressional panels including the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, which has jurisdiction over the program. “When we make an agreement, I think we ought to adhere to it,” Sessions said.
On Tuesday, Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) called the vote a sign of the Senate’s dysfunction, noting that Republicans voted to halt a bill that “probably has more agreement on the other side than this side.” The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), is working with Senate leaders to find a way to both offset the spending and address Sessions’s objection that the bill violates the Constitution because revenue-raising measures originate in the House. “Senator Tester is working with Senator Sessions and stakeholders to pass a once-in-a-generation bill that saves money, expands hunting and fishing, and strengthens conservation efforts,” wrote Tester spokesman Aaron Murphy in an e-mail. “He believes the merits of this bipartisan proposal will rise above minor political hurdles.”
The bill’s backers include the National Rifle Association, the National Wildlife Federation and the White House. The House has passed its version of the bill, which has a few differences, including language blocking the president from declaring any new national monuments under the Antiquities Act.