March 2, 2012
Proposal addresses seniors’ concerns while helping agency
TOPEKA – Earlier this year, the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) asked the Kansas Legislature to consider eliminating the hunting and fishing license exemptions for persons 65 years of age and older. A bill to remove the exemptions was introduced into the Kansas Senate as SB 314, and was referred to the Committee on Natural Resources, which held hearings on the bill on February 17 and March 1.

At the March 1 hearing, Senator Allen Schmidt distributed a proposed balloon amendment giving senior residents two options. Under one option, seniors could purchase an annual half-price hunting, fishing or combination hunting/fishing license (excluding vendor and convenience fee) up to the age of 75, with no license required for 75 years of age and older. Under the current pricing structure, that would make annual hunting and fishing licenses $9.00 each, and an annual combination hunting/fishing license $18.00 (a $2.50 vendor and convenience fee would be added to the cost of each license).

The other option would be for seniors to purchase a one-time, lifetime combination senior hunting/fishing pass for an amount not to exceed one-eighth of the fee for a regular lifetime combination hunting/fishing license. The cost for a senior pass would be set by the Kansas Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Commission through a change in regulation. According to KDWPT Secretary Robin Jennison, the cost for a lifetime combination senior hunting/fishing pass would likely be set at $40.00 not including the vendor and convenience fee. He noted that if a person purchases the lifetime senior pass, the department would receive federal matching funds for 18 years for each pass purchased, helping the agency achieve a more stable and consistent revenue stream.

Senator Schmidt said of his amendment, “I believe this is an effective mechanism to address the concerns of our senior hunters and anglers and help KDWPT meet its needs for a broader funding base to support the fishing and wildlife programs that are so important to Kansas.”

Secretary Jennison thanked Senator Schmidt for his efforts. “We really appreciate Senator Schmidt’s work in bringing this amendment forward,” he said. “It is both fair to our seniors and is a great way to help the agency continue offering the programs and services outdoor enthusiasts have come to expect.”

License revenues and a federal match from the excise tax on hunting and fishing equipment fund the wildlife and fisheries programs. The demographics of hunters and anglers are changing due to baby boomer retirements and greater longevity. KDWPT currently loses an estimated $1.4 million on hunters and anglers between 65 and 74 years of age because of the exemption.

The Committee on Natural Resources is expected to act on the bill in the coming week.