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September 2019 Legislative Update


SUPPORT PROP 5! VOTE YES FOR THE NOVEMBER 2019 TEXAS CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT

In November, a Texas constitutional amendment will appear on the ballot. A simple majority vote will appropriate the revenues from sales tax on sporting goods equipment to fund state parks and historical sites. Sen. Lois Kolkhorst of Brenham and Rep. John Cyrier of Bastrop, with the approval of Governor Abbott, led the Texas Legislature to pass bills calling for the constitutional vote. Between 1993 and 2017, the state’s sporting goods sales tax has generated between $60 million and $165 million annually for a total of $2.5 billion. During that time, only 40% percent of the funding found its way into the budgets of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department or the Texas Historical Commission as intended. Many citizens incorrectly assume the taxes they pay on sporting goods were fully allocated to support parks, not realizing that significant portions of the Sporting Goods Sales Tax are diverted to other purposes. TPWD operates 95 parks and historical sites of its own around the state. The system covers more than 630,000 acres and attracts almost 10 million visitors annually. Its 2019 budget is $86 million, $60 million of which comes from its current share of the sporting goods sales tax. TPWD has been faced with many challenges and needed repairs as a result of severe weather and flooding over the past several years (in the last 10 years, TPWD has experienced more than $100 million in flood damage to park’s facilities around the state), in addition to the expenses required to routinely maintain Texas state parks. If approved, the amendment would authorize 94% of the revenue to TPWD’s parks and historical sites and 6% to sites under the Texas Historical Commission.

SUPPORT RECOVERING AMERICA’S WILDLIFE ACT: H.R. 3742

The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act has been introduced in the U.S. House by Representatives Dingell (D-MI-12) and Fortenberry (R-NE-01). This bipartisan legislation establishes a 21st Century funding model for the proactive conservation of fish and wildlife. This legislation redirects $1.3 billion annually in existing revenues to state fish and wildlife agencies to implement their science-driven wildlife action plans, and an additional $97.5 million to tribal wildlife managers to conserve species on tribal lands and waters. This funding will ensure those with a proven track record of success in species conservation and recovery can proactively conserve at-risk fish and wildlife in a voluntary, non-regulatory manner.  

SUPPORT MODERNIZING THE PITTMAN-ROBERTSON FUND FOR TOMORROW’S NEEDS ACT

Another very important bill has been reintroduced in the 116th Congress-the Modernizing the Pittman-Robertson Fund for Tomorrow’s Needs Act. The Pittman-Robertson Act directs excise taxes on firearms, ammunition, and archery equipment to be used for wildlife conservation purposes. Since its origin in 1937, this legislation has contributed nearly $11.5 billion to wildlife conservation. This legislation would provide funding to state wildlife agencies for the recruitment, retention, and reactivation of hunters and recreational shooters (R3) through educational programs.   

SUPPORT SAVES ACT

Introduced by U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) the Saving America’s Vulnerable and Endangered Species (SAVES) Act, would eliminate bureaucratic red tape for ranchers and conservators engaged in captive breeding of exotic wildlife and support animal conservation efforts. Sen. Cruz said. “Non-native species and wildlife enrich Texas land and are an important economic driver. I am proud to reintroduce the SAVES Act to eliminate bureaucratic regulations and empower Texans to engage in a sustainable use of resources while supporting their wildlife breeding and conservation efforts.”

OPPOSE THE PASSAGE OF H.R. 2245: THE CONSERVING ECOSYSTEMS BY CEASING THE IMPORTATION OF LARGE ANIMALS TROPHIES ACT

HSC was an original signer and has joined forces with 31 other conservation organizations to oppose this piece of legislation. This bill represents an ill-conceived attempt to substitute uninformed prejudices for the management strategies of the wildlife authorities successfully conserving the world’s largest populations of lions, elephants and other African species in their range countries. If implemented, H.R. 2245 would undermine some of the most effective strategies for conserving the world’s wildlife.  

SUPPORT HR 837: CHRONIC WASTING DISEASE TRANSMISSION STUDY FUNDING

HR 837, sponsored by U.S. Representatives Ralph Abraham (R-La.) and Marc Veasey (D-Texas), calls for a collaboration between the Secretaries of Agriculture and Interior to work with the National Academies of Science to “study and identify the ways CWD is transmitted between wild, captive and farmed” deer, caribou, elk and moose.

OPPOSE PEBBLE MINE

Pebble Mine is proposed to be built in the headwaters of Bristol Bay, Alaska. Bristol Bay’s world-renowned sockeye salmon fishery is valued at over $1.5 billion, supports over 14,000 jobs, and sustains more than 30 regional Alaska Native Tribes. The proposed Pebble Mine would be over 1,500 feet deep by 6,500 feet wide, covering 3,190 acres – all in the headwaters of the world’s largest salmon fishery. On February 20, 2019 the US Army Corps of Engineers released the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for Pebble Mine. Due to a 30-day extension announced on May 3rd, public comments on the draft EIS were accepted until July 1, 2019. During the period when the draft EIS was out for public comment, several public hearings were held to receive public input on the proposed mine. In July 2019, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced that they would not block the proposed Pebble Mine. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is in the process of reviewing all submitted public comments on the draft EIS and preparing a final EIS. The final EIS is expected to be released in early 2020 and a decision on the project will be announced in mid-2020.

HSC APPLAUDS U.S. SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR BERNHARDT’S ACTION TO EXPAND PUBLIC ACCESS TO HUNTING & FISHING

Through efforts to increase recreational access on public lands, U.S. Secretary of the Interior David has announced new hunting and fishing opportunities on more than 1.4 million acres nationwide. The expansion included in the rule is more than double the acreage that has been opened or expanded compared to the last 5 years combined. Seventy-seven national wildlife refuges and 15 national fish hatcheries managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are incorporated in the new rule and are now open to hunting and fishing for the first time or have expanded opportunities for new game species. This action will now bring the number of units in the Service’s National Wildlife Refuge System where the public may hunt to 381 and the number where fishing will be permitted to 316. In addition, this will formally open lands on 15 hatcheries of the National Fish Hatchery System to hunting and/or sport fishing for the first time. The final rule also outlines a comprehensive revision and simplification of all refuge-specific hunting and fishing regulations in all 50 states to more closely match state regulations while continuing to ensure safe and compatible opportunities. 

Houston Safari Club (HSC) is a 501(c)(4) non-profit organization dedicated to legislative and policy initiatives that may affect the future of hunting. HSC supports initiatives that protect the tradition of hunting and hunters’ rights. We take an active role in efforts to effect policy, protocols and legislation. Our mission is to protect the rights of hunters and the hunting heritage through advocacy, policy and legislation. Houston Safari Club (HSC) is a non-profit organization, exempt from federal income tax, under section 501(c)(4) of the United States Internal Revenue Code. Payments to HSC are not deductible as charitable contributions for federal income tax purposes. Please contact your tax advisor concerning deductibility of any payments as business deductions. HSC EIN: 76-0082197. HSC is an independent organization, is not affiliated with Safari Club International (SCI) or its affiliates and is not a chapter or affiliate of any other organization.


Houston Safari Club (HSC) is a non-profit organization, exempt from federal income tax, under section 501(c)(4) of the United States Internal Revenue Code. Payments to HSC are not deductible as charitable contributions for federal income tax purposes. Please contact your tax advisor concerning deductibility of any payments as business deductions. HSC EIN: 76-0082197. HSC is an independent organization, is not affiliated with Safari Club International (SCI) or its affiliates and is not a chapter or affiliate of any other organization.