Bill To Increase Senior Age For Hunting, Fishing License Goes To Governor

By: Chris Frank/Associated Press Email
By: Chris Frank/Associated Press Email

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Friday, May 18, 2012

Some Kansas senior citizens counting on free hunting and fishing licenses for state parks may soon have to wait until they're a little older. On Friday, state senators voted 30-8 to approve a bill to push back the minimum exemption age from 65 to 75.

Wichita angler Janna Walters doesn't like the idea of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism charging seniors for hunting and fishing licenses they currently get for free.

"Like my parents, they all like to fish and they're in that age category and they're now having to pay for their recreation. I think it's wrong," said Walters.

Kansas Wildlife, Parks and Tourism spokesman Ron Kaufman says the department doesn't get money from the state's general fund. Instead, he says much of their money for programs comes from hunting and fishing licenses. Until now, those over 65 have been exempt from license fees.

"We actually proposed this bill to allow us to have a more consistent and reliable stream of income," said Kaufman. "With the aging population, that means more and more folks in that age group will be coming into the free license category and we'll wind up losing income as a result."

The department estimates it could collect an additional $870,000 a year by having seniors pay for fishing licenses. Valley Center angler Bob Werner says seniors already pay their fair share of state fees.

"I don't think it's right at all. You know, we don't treat our retirees good enough the way it is with the taxes they have to pay. I think we ought at least be able to take care of them when it comes to recreation," said Werner.

The department will offer those between ages of 65 and 75 a one-time license fee of $40 to hunt and fish for the rest of their life. That's less than buying licenses every year and it also allows the state to get reimbursed federal excise tax seniors pay when they buy new fishing and hunting equipment. With the current senior exemption, the state has been missing out on the federal money as well.

The bill now goes to the governor for consideration.

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Kansas House has approved a bill that makes several changes to hunting and fishing regulations.

The bill approved Thursday would increase the age to qualify for free hunting and fishing licenses from 65 to 75. And it would give those 65 to 75 the chance to buy annual licenses or a $38 lifetime pass.

The Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism says free hunting and fishing for seniors is causing budget problems for the department, which receives no state general funds.

The bill also establishes a project to study allowing crossbows during archery season. The crossbows would be allowed in four of the state's 19 wildlife management precincts for two years.

The bill also strengthens poaching penalties.

It now goes to the Senate.

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