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Gov. Cuomo proposes license fee reductions by Ron Kolodziej

Wednesday, February 27, 2013 - Updated: 8:49 AM

This could just be a form of appeasement after the foolish and unnecessary introduction of the SAFE Act, but I’ll pass it along for your review.

Governor Cuomo recently announced the “NY Open For Fishing and Hunting” plan to streamline hunting and fishing licenses and reduce license fees to support tourism opportunities. It’s designed to reduce fees for anglers, hunters and trappers while maintaining support for the state’s fish and wildlife programs.

It would also reduce the number of licenses offered and lower many fees for both residents and non-residents, as well as making permanent the free marine fishing licenses registration that was due to expire at the end of this year.

In effect, it would reduce by 11 the number of licenses available while still maintaining all current hunting and fishing privileges and opportunities. It would reduce the price of a hunting license from $29 to $22; a fishing license from $29 to $25; make fishing licenses valid for one year from the date of purchase; combine small game and big game licenses into one license; fold trapping privileges into the hunting license for no additional fee for certified trappers; maintain Junior Trapper and Trapper Mentor opportunities; reduce fees for non-resident hunting and fishing licenses to attract more out-of-state participants; reduce the annual muzzleloader licenses from $21 to $11; and retain discounted licenses for youth, seniors, military disabled and Native Americans.

In reality however, I understand there may be no decrease for persons who normally buy Sportsman or Super Sportsman licenses. Those options will be discontinued and the reduced fees for those license equivalents and extra privileges will be $47 and $88 respectively. I wonder what will happen to my Lifetime License?

Fees for licenses for out-of-state residents would be reduced thusly: annual fishing licenses from $70 to $50; annual hunting license from $140 to $100; annual bow hunting licenses from $140 to $40; annual muzzleloader license from $140 to $30; one-day turkey hunting stamp from $50 to $20; and one-day fishing license from $15 to $10.

There are some other refinements as well but perhaps we can discuss them in a future column.

Great idea, but I see this as a potential financial boon as well. Many - most - hunters come to New York state from states that have a much more forgiving view of firearms and may not be aware of all the stumbling blocks the SAFE Act is attempting to foist on sportsmen and sportswomen. Does this NY Open For Fishing and Hunting plan contain a blanket exemption for all those out-of-staters or will they be arrested, charged and fined if any of them have one extra shell in their firearm or perhaps even show up here with the wrong weapon? After all, don’t they have to abide by the same rules we do?

SAFE ACT MEETING

The SAFE Act meeting at the Pine Tree Rifle Club in Johnstown Feb. 18 was well attended and informative. Many concerns and opinions were addressed, but the bottom line was the need for repeal or at least a substantial revision of the hastily written SAFE Act.

The entire matter is such a mass of confusion that it takes a person with a lot of spare time and a lot of savvy to even understand it; a law degree would also help. Then you have - at the same time - the federal act, which disagrees with our state act in many respects but agrees on others. Many of the questions posed at the meeting could not be definitively responded to because no one could interpret the entirety of the SAFE Act, or those concerns are not even addressed in it.

It’s interesting to note no State Police representatives were present. Perhaps they actually understand it and don’t wish to become involved except as enforcers. Who knows? The bottom line is at least some of the firearms you now own and hunt with may become restricted weapons and can no longer be used or even owned. That goes for the magazines these weapons use too.

I’ll have more on this meeting in future columns, but I can tell you that Tom King of the NYS Rifle & Pistol Association revealed a lawsuit against the SAFE Act was in the process of being prepared and would likely be served within the next week or so.

Another, larger, rally is planned for tomorrow in Albany. That should prove exceedingly interesting too, and in future columns I’ll cover that gathering as well.

BASS IS COMING

Here’s a surprising but welcome piece of news. Bass Pro Shops announced Friday it will be opening a store in Utica. Scheduled to open late this year, the store will be located in Riverside Center on Rt. 12. I’ll have more on this in a future column.

     

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