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BILL AS INTRODUCED 2007-2008

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H.543

Introduced by Committee on Fish, Wildlife and Water Resources

Date:

Subject:  Fish and wildlife; funding

Statement of purpose:  This bill proposes to authorize additional programs for the funding of the department of fish and wildlife.

AN ACT RELATING TO FUNDING OF THE DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:

Sec. 1.  10 V.S.A. § 4153 is amended to read:

§ 4153.  LIFETIME LICENSE; AWARD LICENSE DRAWINGS;
  LOTTERIES

(a)(1)  The commissioner is authorized to hold an annual drawing of applications for prizes that the department may have available such as licenses other than lifetime or other licenses, time at a fish and wildlife conservation camp, and fish and wildlife publications.  However, the The department shall not offer cash nor purchase or accept goods for the purpose of making them available through the drawing.  Anyone who has reached the age of majority may enter the drawing by filling out an application provided by the commissioner and paying a fee of $2.00.  There is no limit to the number of applications a person may enter.  Prizes shall be awarded by the random drawing of applications.

(2)  The commissioner is authorized to establish a lottery for lifetime licenses.  The lottery for lifetime licenses shall be conducted pursuant to section 668 of Title 31.

(b)  The commissioner shall establish procedures necessary to implement this section.

(c)  The agent for a drawing under subdivision (a)(1) of this section shall be reimbursed $0.25 per application.

(d)  Fees collected under this section shall be deposited into the fish and wildlife fund.

(e)  Licenses awarded under this section shall be paid for from the fees collected under this section.

Sec. 2.  10 V.S.A. § 4254(h) is amended to read:

(h)  If the board decides to hold a lottery for the purpose of allocating permits to hunt or fish, except for a lottery held pursuant to sections section 4081 or 4153 of this title, a lottery held pursuant to section 668 of Title 31, or for water fowl hunting permits for specific areas as defined by the board by rule, the department shall require that each resident entering the lottery shall submit a nonrefundable fee of $10.00 and each nonresident entering the lottery shall submit a nonrefundable fee of $25.00 with each application.  Proceeds from the sale of applications shall be deposited into the fish and wildlife fund.

Sec. 3.  31 V.S.A. § 668 is added to read:

§ 668.  LIFETIME HUNTING AND FISHING LICENSES

(a)  The commission, after agreement with the commissioner of fish and wildlife, shall adopt rules creating a lottery that shall annually award up to 12 grand prizes which shall be lifetime combination hunting and fishing licenses. 

(b)  Notwithstanding 10 V.S.A. § 4279(b), a resident of the state or a nonresident shall be eligible to receive a grand prize awarded under this section.  All grand-prize winners must be eligible for a hunting or fishing license pursuant to 10 V.S.A. § 4254(a) and (b) or must become eligible before the license is awarded.

(c)  All grand-prize winners shall be subject to the requirements of 10 V.S.A. § 4279(c)–(e).

(d)  The commissioner, after agreement with the commissioner of fish and wildlife, shall establish an amount to be paid annually by the department of fish and wildlife to the lottery commission for the administration of the lottery.

(e)  At the end of each calendar year, an amount equal to the fees for the lifetime combination licenses awarded under this section, as determined pursuant to 10 V.S.A. § 4279(f), or the amount of revenue collected under this section, whichever is less, shall be transferred from the fish and wildlife fund established by 10 V.S.A. § 4047 to the fish and wildlife trust fund established by 10 V.S.A. § 4049.

(f)  Except as set forth in subsection (e) of this section, revenues collected under this section shall be deposited into the fish and wildlife fund.

Sec. 4.  10 V.S.A. § 4049 is amended to read:

§ 4049.  FISH AND WILDLIFE TRUST FUND

(a)  The general assembly recognizes the importance to the people of Vermont of conserving Vermont’s fish and wildlife resources.  Therefore, in order to provide the opportunity for Vermonters to invest in the future of its fish and wildlife resources, there is hereby created a fish and wildlife trust fund within the fish and wildlife fund which shall consist of:

(1)  Receipts from sales of any lifetime licenses created pursuant to subsection 4279(f) of this title and transfers of an amount equal to the fee for a lifetime license pursuant to 31 V.S.A. § 668(e).

* * *

Sec. 5.  10 V.S.A. § 4048a is added to read:

§ 4048a.  FISH AND GAME HABITAT CONSERVATION ACCOUNT; 
    EXPENDITURES

(a)  A fish and game habitat conservation account is created and shall consist of:

(1)  funds appropriated by the general assembly, subject to availability of funds generated pursuant to section 5862e of Title 32;

(2)  funds from public and private sources which the commissioner accepts for the fund;

(3)  funds from federal government aid for state activities in habitat conservation; and

(4)  interest on the cash balance of the account.

(b)  For purposes of this section, habitat conservation shall consist of the acquisition, protection, management, and preservation of habitat used by fish and game species that are native to this state.

(c)  Amounts in the account shall carry over from year to year.

(d)  The commissioner of fish and wildlife, according to the provisions of 3 V.S.A. chapter 25, shall adopt a rule establishing a plan for fish and game habitat conservation.  The rule may be amended from time to time, and shall be reviewed, after public hearings, at least every five years.  The plan shall contain:

(1)  strategies to manage, inventory, preserve, protect, perpetuate, and enhance all wildlife habitat in the state, including identification of habitat suitable for or necessary for use by wildlife species in need of protection;

(2)  estimates of resources available for these strategies; and

(3)  plans for research and education regarding fish and game habitat conservation.

(e)  In accordance with the plan, the commissioner of fish and wildlife may make expenditures from the fish and game habitat conservation account.  Expenditures shall be restricted to programs specified in the duly adopted plan.  Expenditures may be made under the terms of contracts with private organizations and groups, consistent with the purposes of the plan.  Expenditures shall not exceed the monies available in the account.

(f)  The commissioner of fish and wildlife may take appropriate actions to encourage taxpayers to make designations to the account, including explaining the purposes of the fund and the uses to which the account has been or will be applied.

Sec. 6.  32 V.S.A. § 5862e is added to read:

§ 5862e.  FISH AND GAME HABITAT CONSERVATION ACCOUNT
   CHECKOFF

(a)  Returns filed by individuals shall include, on a form prescribed by the commissioner of taxes, an opportunity for the taxpayer to designate funds to reimburse the state, in all or in part, for its general fund appropriation to the fish and game habitat conservation account.

(b)  Amounts so designated shall be deducted from refunds due to, or overpayments made by, the designating taxpayers.  All amounts so designated and deducted shall be deposited in the fish and game habitat conservation account by the commissioner of taxes.  If, at any time after the payment of amounts so designated to the fish and game habitat conservation account, it is determined that the taxpayer was not entitled to all or any part of the amount so designated, the commissioner may assess, and the fish and game habitat conservation account shall then pay to the commissioner, the amount received, together with interest at the rate prescribed by section 3108 of this title, from the date the payment was made until the date of repayment.

(c)  The commissioner of taxes may encourage taxpayers to make designations to the account, including explaining the purposes of the account and how to contribute to it.

(d)  If amounts paid with respect to a return are insufficient to cover both the amount owed on the return under this chapter and the amount designated by the taxpayer as a contribution to the fish and game habitat conservation account, the payment shall first be applied to the amount owed on the return under this chapter and the balance, if any, shall be deposited in the fish and game habitat conservation account.

(e)  Nothing in this section shall be construed to require the commissioner to collect any amount designated as a contribution to the fish and game habitat conservation account.


Sec. 7.  10 V.S.A. § 4001(36) and (37) are added to read:

§ 4001.  DEFINITIONS

Words and phrases used in this part, unless otherwise provided, shall be construed to mean as follows:

* * *

(36)  Nonmotorized vessel: every description of nonmotorized watercraft, including but not limited to a sail boat, sail board, rowboat, paddle boat, raft, canoe, or kayak, used or capable of being used as a means of transportation on water.  Nonmotorized vessel does not mean a single air mattress, single inner tube, or other water toy used for flotation.

(37)  Waters of this state: any waters within the territorial limits of this state.

Sec. 8.  10 V.S.A. § 4252 is amended to read:

§ 4252.  ACTIVITIES PERMITTED UNDER LICENSES

Subject to provisions of this part and regulations of the board:

(1)  A fishing license shall entitle the holder to take fish and operate a nonmotorized vessel on the waters of the state.

(2)  A hunting license shall entitle the holder to take wild animals, except those that require a separate big game license, and to shoot pickerel, and operate a nonmotorized vessel on the waters of the state.

(3)  A trappers’ license shall entitle the holder to take animals with the use of traps and operate a nonmotorized vessel on the waters of the state.

(4)  A combination fishing and hunting license shall entitle the holder to take fish and wild animals, except those that require a separate big game license, and to shoot pickerel, and to operate a nonmotorized vessel on the waters of the state.

* * *

(12)  A super sport license shall entitle the holder to take fish, shoot pickerel, operate a nonmotorized vessel on the waters of the state, take wild animals pursuant to chapter 113 of this title, take wild animals as allowed under a combination hunting and fishing license and the following big game licenses:  archery, muzzle loader, turkey, second archery, and second muzzle loader.  The commissioner may establish procedures to encourage purchasers of a super sport license to make a stewardship donation of $10.00 to the fish and wildlife fund for the purpose of habitat improvement.

(13)  A waterways license or decal issued under section 4281 of this title shall entitle the holder to operate a nonmotorized vessel on the waters of the state.


Sec. 9.  10 V.S.A. § 4281 is added to read:

§ 4281.  VERMONT WATERWAYS LICENSE

(a)  Except as set forth in section 4282 of this title, a valid waterways license, fishing license, or trapping or hunting license shall be available at all times for inspection whenever a nonmotorized vessel is operated on waters of the state.

(b)  A waterways license may be issued to any person 12 years of age or older.  A waterways license shall not be required for the operation of a nonmotorized watercraft by any person 11 years of age or younger.  The waterways license shall be issued annually.

Sec. 10.  10 V.S.A. § 4282 is added to read:

§ 4282.  GO WILD IN VERMONT DECAL

(a)  In order to increase public awareness of the need to conserve, protect, and manage the fish and wildlife of the state, the department of fish and wildlife shall, on an annual basis, issue a decal, known as the go wild in Vermont decal, for voluntary mounting on motorboats, personal watercraft, nonmotorized vessels, or other vehicles or areas of display.

(b)  The commissioner of fish and wildlife shall have the authority to sell and distribute the decals.  The charge for an individual go wild in Vermont decal shall be $15.00.  Monies collected under this section shall be deposited into the fish and wildlife fund.

(c)  A nonmotorized vessel to which a decal is affixed shall be exempt from the license requirements of section 4281 of this title, provided that the sticker is permanently affixed to the nonmotorized vessel, and the sticker is current for the calendar year.

Sec. 11.  10 V.S.A. § 4145 is amended to read:

§ 4145.  ACCESS, LANDING AREA RULES

(a)  The board may adopt rules, under chapter 25 of Title 3, to regulate the use by the public of access areas, landing areas, parking areas, or of other lands or waters acquired or maintained pursuant to section 4144 of this title.  Such rules shall be posted in the areas affected and shall permit the launching of all vessels which have a Vermont registration certificate required by chapter 29 of Title 23 and the parking of vehicles and boat trailers used by these vessels.  The rules shall not preclude the authorization to launch vessels not registered in Vermont.  These rules also shall permit the launching of all nonmotorized vessels not used for commercial purposes and the parking of vehicles and boat trailers used by these vessels, provided that the operator of the nonmotorized vessel is in possession of a valid fishing, hunting, trapping, or waterways license or a valid go wild in Vermont decal is permanently affixed to the vessel.

* * *


Sec. 12.  10 V.S.A. § 4255 is amended to read:

§ 4255.  LICENSE  FEES

(a)  Vermont residents may apply for licenses on forms provided by the commissioner.  Fees for each license shall be:

(1)  Fishing license $ 20.00

* * *

(12)  Waterways license $ 20.00

(b)  Nonresidents may apply for licenses on forms provided by the commissioner.  Fees for each license shall be:

(1)  Fishing license $ 41.00

* * *

(16)  Waterways license $ 20.00

* * *

(k)  Any person who applies for a license issued under this chapter may for an additional fee of $7.00 obtain a Vermont fish and wildlife silver sportsman decal, indicating support of the department of fish and wildlife and its programs.  The fee for the Vermont fish and wildlife silver sportsman decal shall be deposited into the fish and wildlife fund.

Sec. 13.  REPORT TO THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY

On or before January 15, 2008, the department of fish and wildlife shall report to the house committee on fish, wildlife and water resources and the senate committee on natural resources and energy with the proposed go wild in Vermont decal required by section 4262 of Title 10.

Sec. 14.  EFFECTIVE DATE

(a)  This section and Secs. 1 (department of fish and wildlife drawings and lotteries), 2 (department of fish and wildlife lottery), 3 (department of fish and wildlife lottery), 4 (fish and wildlife trust fund), 5 (fish and game habitat conservation account), 6 (fish and game habitat conservation account checkoff), 11 (super sporting license), and 13 (report to the general assembly) of this act shall take effect July 1, 2007.

(b)  Secs. 7 (fish and wildlife definitions), 8 (activities permitted under fish and wildlife licenses), 9 (Vermont waterways license), and 10 (go wild in Vermont decal) shall take effect July 1, 2008.



Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont


www.leg.state.vt.us