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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: December 22, 2016 03:29 PM
From: Senator John H. Eichelberger, Jr.
To: All Senate members
Subject: Authority to Establish Fees -- Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission
I plan to re-introduce legislation to authorize the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) to establish the fees charged by the agency.

Currently, the PFBC’s fees are established by legislation. As an independent administrative agency that is not supported by General Fund revenues and relies on user fees to pay for almost everything it does, the PFBC has a vested business interest in setting a fee structure that generates sufficient revenues to sustain its work on behalf of anglers, boaters, and aquatic resources while having the least possible negative impact on participation and sales.

Under my proposed legislation, fees would be established by regulation, offer the opportunity for public comment, and be considered by the Board of Commissioners at two separate public meetings. The General Assembly would retain the ability to disapprove any fee change by concurrent resolution. The bill also includes a three-year sunset provision, allowing the General Assembly to evaluate this new approach before extending the authority to the PFBC for additional years.

The Fish and Boat Code (Title 30) directs the PFBC to submit an annual report to the House and Senate Game and Fisheries and Appropriations Committees each year, and also requires the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee to conduct a performance audit of the PFBC every three years. Further, members of the Commission are subject to Senate confirmation. I believe that these checks and balances, coupled with the required public comment and legislative review, provide the legislature with the opportunity to ensure the responsible implementation of this authority.

The bill also broadens the use of proceeds from the Lake Erie permit for projects that benefit public fishing, removes the word “salmon” from the trout/salmon permit since the agency no longer stocks salmon, and makes minor technical amendments to ensure consistency throughout Title 30.

Last session, the co-sponsors of the bill (SB1168) were: Wozniak, Alloway, Wagner, Teplitz,Blake, Bartolotta, Vulakovich, Wiley, Browne, Ward, Brewster, Folmer, Vogel, Mcgarrigle, Tartaglione, Sabatina, Stefano, Leach, Dinniman, Schwank and Smucker. SB 1168 passed the Senate overwhelmingly in 2016, but never received a floor vote in the House. The bill was endorsed by regional, statewide, and national sportsmen’s organizations.

Please join me in co-sponsoring this legislation to give the commission the flexibility to better serve Pennsylvania’s millions of anglers and recreational boaters. It should be noted that the PFBC has consistently demonstrated a commitment to fiscal discipline and was applauded by the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee in 2014 for having the lowest expenditures per license among states surveyed across the country. I believe this proposal builds on that track record of accountability.

Introduced as SB30