A rallying point for game and fish bill? | BrainerdDispatch.com | Brainerd, Minnesota

A rallying point for game and fish bill?

After it gets backing Monday morning, license fees hike passes Senate in afternoon

Posted: April 23, 2012 - 11:16pm

A rally supporting an increase in hunting and fishing license fees was held Monday morning at the state Capitol. A bill supporting the fees hike was OK’d by the state Senate on Monday afternoon.

Coincidence?

Baxter’s Greg Kvale doesn’t think so.

Kvale, who as a member of Anglers for Habitat helped organize Monday’s rally in the rotunda at the state Capitol, drove with seven others from the Brainerd area — including fishing icon Al Lindner — early Monday morning to make some noise at a crucial stage for the bill.

Under the bill, a resident individual fishing license would go from $17 to $22, a small game license from $19 to $22 and a deer hunting license from $26 to $30. Nonresident hunting and fishing licenses also would go up.

License fees haven’t been raised since 2001, and the DNR says that without the increases, the state’s Game and Fish Fund could go into the red by July 2013. Among other things, the fund pays for fish stocking and enforcement and management of wildlife areas, and without the increases cuts to staff and programs could come by the end of the current legislative session, the DNR said.

The bill was dealt a blow early last week when an attempt to amend the fee bill language into the Senate game and fish policy bill failed on a floor vote, so a rally in support of the effort was much needed.

“It did pass out of the Senate this afternoon. So the timing couldn’t have been better,” Kvale said of the rally, which he said was attended by upward of 100 outdoors advocates from a number of game-and-fish-related groups. “It goes to a conference committee next, where they’ll hammer out the differences. I’m assuming the conference committee will be named by this time next week. Then it goes to the governor. There are still quite a few hoops to go through.”

Lindner was the guest host at the rally and Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria, who authored the bill, and Rep. Denny McNamara, R-Hastings, who chairs the House environment committee, were guests.

“I think so,” Kvale said when asked if he thought the rally had an impact on the Senate vote, which was 36-30 in favor of the bill. “I think it (the rally) was about as timely as you could get. It couldn’t have worked out any better. It came together just perfect. It was well-received. Everybody was upbeat.

“Al (Lindner) chastised the legislators that we have to go through this effort to get an increase that we all want.”

According to Kvale, the location of the rally — in the rotunda — made for a visible effort.

“If you were walking from one spot to another in the Legislature you saw it, And a couple of groups of kids were there — we had them cheering. There was no opposition shown to it and good representation from all the groups.”

The bill also could allow for wolf hunting in the state after the species came off the endangered species list in January. A proposal to move the fishing opener up a week was dropped and also will be decided by a House-Senate conference committee.

BRIAN S. PETERSON may be reached at brian.peterson@brainerddispatch.com or 855-5864. To follow him on Twitter, go to www.twitter.com/brian_speterson. For his blogs, go to www.brainerddispatch.com.