The Minnesota Senate approved legislation Monday to raise most hunting and fishing license fees – an increase the state’s hunters and anglers support, according to Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen.
Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria, has been fighting with his colleagues in the Senate to raise fees on hunting, fishing and trapping licenses in Minnesota. He tabled the bill last week because lawmakers in the Senate defeated the fee increases, which could raise roughly $11 million to keep the state’s game and fish fund solvent.
The fee hikes would be used for conservation officers, water monitoring, walleye and trout stocking, and to employ biologists to help lawmakers make informed decisions. It would be the first fee increase in about 12 years.
Ingebrigtsen, chairman of the Environment and Natural Resources Committee, managed to gain Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk’s support, which helped him get the bill passed 36-30. Bakk had a hand in stalling the bill last week.
With bipartisan support, Bakk successfully amended the bill Monday to take 50 cents of increases on hunting and fishing licenses to be used to generate about $1 million a year for Minnesota’s school trust lands. It looked like a deal with Ingebrigtsen to get the DFLer’s support.
Ingebrigtsen, who attended a rally with anglers, hunters and other supporters of the fee increases before Monday’s session started, urged his colleagues to support the proposal. He hammered home that it wasn’t a tax increase.
“Sportsmen and women are all over our state are concerned about protecting and preserving Minnesota’s heritage and hunting and fishing,” he said. “Our environment, members, is certainly a bipartisan issue.
“This is not a tax, this is a fee.”
The bill also outlines provisions for wolf hunting and would allow hunting and fishing to continue during a state government shutdown. Bakk tabled an amendment that would move up the state’s fishing opener for a week after it faced opposition from both parties.
The House version of the game and fish bill, passed in early April, still contains the early opener provision but doesn’t include fee increases