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Through the Lens

Legislative Updates - Part 2

Tue, February 27, 2018

Here’s Part two of recently introduced legislation that impacts IDNR, outdoorsmen and women, hunters and anglers. Some is innocuous, “clean up” and appropriations type, yet there are still those few pieces that leave me as always, wondering about the why we need this particular change. Clicking on the bill number and title will take you the full text of the bill.

HB 4279-DNR-RECREATIONAL BOAT FUNDING

Synopsis as Introduced:
Amends the Department of Natural Resources Act. Provides that the Department of Natural Resources has the authority to accept, receive, and administer on behalf of the State, federal grant funds associated with the development or preservation of recreational boating infrastructure on this State’s waterways and distribute those funds as prescribed by the appropriate federal agency. Provides that funds received by the Department shall be deposited into the Natural Resources Federal Boating Infrastructure Grant Dollars Fund and used for these purposes. Makes conforming changes in the State Finance Act.

This is essentially what I would call a clean-up or appropriations bill. It just insures that funding gets distributed as it’s supposed to.

HB 4487 – FUNDING STATE PARKS THROUGH LOTTERY GAMES

Synopsis as Introduced:
Amends the Illinois Lottery Law. Requires the Department of the Lottery, beginning on January 1, 2019 or as soon thereafter as is practical, to offer a special instant scratch-off game for the purposes of upkeep, maintenance, and improvements to Illinois State and local parks. Provides that the net revenue from the special instant scratch-off game must be deposited into the Illinois Parks Scratch-off Fund. Provides that the moneys deposited in the Fund shall be used by the Department of Natural Resources for upkeep, maintenance, and improvements to Illinois State and local parks, including grants for those purposes. Authorizes the Department of the Lottery to adopt rules necessary to implement and administer the game. Defines “net revenue”. Amends the State Finance Act to create the Illinois Parks Scratch-off Fund. Effective immediately.

While I don’t think any of us can argue that any additional revenue stream, for our IDNR especially our State Parks is a bad thing, I must wonder what the anticipated revenue from this program will be. Additionally, is this to replace the sustainability funds that we may or may not have lost due to the lockbox amendment? I think that’s still up in the air. I can’t seem to get a concrete answer from anyone about whether IDNR lost those license plate generated sustainability funds.

HB 4592 -$DNR-SNOWMOBILES

Synopsis as Introduced:
Appropriates $442,403 from the Snowmobile Trail Establishment Fund to the Department of Natural Resources for the administration and payment of grants to nonprofit snowmobile clubs and organizations for construction, maintenance, and rehabilitation of snowmobile trails and areas for the use of snowmobiles. Effective immediately.

Again, just cleaning up and insuring that money goes where it is supposed to be going.

4585-ROCK RIVER-CATFISH

Synopsis as Introduced:
Amends the Fish and Aquatic Life Code. Provides that all properly licensed individuals shall be permitted to take, in any one day, no more than one flathead catfish under 35 inches in length within the waters of Rock River. Provides that a flathead catfish in possession of an individual from Rock River that is over 35 inches in length shall be released immediately. Provides that all properly licensed individuals shall be permitted to take, in any one day, no more than 6 channel catfish under 30 inches in length within the waters of Rock River. Provides that a channel catfish in possession of an individual from Rock River that is over 30 inches in length shall be released immediately.

This seems sensible, and we can hope that it was brought about by hard data from our fisheries department.

SB 2295 -FISHING LICENSES

Synopsis as Introduced:
Amends the Fish and Aquatic Life Code. Defines “fishing license” for purposes of the Act as an electronic or physical license authorizing the person to take a certain type of fish during a specified period. Effective immediately.

Again – seems sensible to me. I am one who carries the pdfs of my credentials on my phone. Having utilized some of the smartphone-based systems in other states, this is a step in the right direction.

HB 5278 - 5 YR HUNTING & FISHING LICENSE

Synopsis as Introduced:
Amends the Fish and Aquatic Life Code. Provides that residents of this State may obtain a 5-year fishing license. Provides that the fee for a 5-year fishing license is $62.50. Provides that for residents age 65 or older, the fee is one-half of the fee charged for a 5-year fishing license. Provides that for resident veterans of the United States Armed Forces after returning from service abroad or mobilization by the President of the United States, the fee is one-half of the fee charged for a 5-year fishing license. Provides that residents of this State may obtain a 5-year sportsmen’s combination license that shall entitle the holder to the same non-commercial fishing privileges as residents holding a license and to the same hunting privileges as residents holding a license to hunt all species under the Wildlife Code. Provides that the 5-year sportsmen’s combination license fee shall be $112.50. Provides that no sportsmen’s combination license shall be issued to any individual who would be ineligible for either the fishing or hunting license separately. Provides that for residents age 65 or older, the fee is one-half of the fee charged for a 5-year sportsmen’s combination license. Provides that for resident veterans of the United States Armed Forces after returning from service abroad or mobilization by the President of the United States, the fee is one-half of the fee charged for a 5-year sportsmen’s combination license. Amends the Wildlife Code. Provides that residents of this State may obtain a 5-year hunting license to hunt all species for $52. Provides that for residents age 65 or older and resident veterans of the United States Armed Forces after returning from service abroad or mobilization by the President of the United States, the fee is one-half of the fee charged for a 5-year hunting license.

Again – unless I’ve missed something – there’s nothing in this to really upset any apple carts. Why not offer a five-year license? In our household, we would likely take advantage of this.


HB 4759 – WILDLIFE DUCK BLIND OR PIT

Synopsis as Introduced:
Amends the Wildlife Code. Provides that a person shall not establish or use a blind or pit for the taking of wild ducks within 100 yards of the boundary of property on which the blind or pit is located without consent from the landowner of the adjacent property. Provides that the provision only applies to property located in Alexander County, Union County, Williamson County, or Jackson County. Effective immediately.


On the surface this seems cut and dried. But I still have few questions. Why just those counties? Is it due to the number of commercial waterfowl clubs? Seems like we are complicating regs a little with this. Why not just make it apply statewide? And while we are at it – why not include deer stands, blinds etc. So many of the disputes each hunting season seem to come from property line creepers. Would this give property owners any assurances? Oh, and what about geese? Would the legislation be a little cleaner if it used the term migratory waterfowl vs wild ducks?

HB 5693 & SB 2963 - WILDLIFE - TRAPPING TAGS

Synopsis as Introduced:
Amends the Wildlife Code. Provides that traps used in the taking of mammals protected by the Code, for which an open trapping season has been established, shall be marked or tagged with metal tags or inscribed in lettering giving the name and address of the owner, or the name and customer identification number issued by the Department of Natural Resources, and absence of such mark or tag shall be prima facie evidence that such trap or traps are illegally used and the trap or traps shall be confiscated and disposed of as directed by the Department. Effective immediately.

Again this seems sensible and straightforward. Gives trappers the choice of using name and address or name and IDNR customer number. In today’s world with so many concerns about privacy, and difficulties from anti trapping organizations - being able to list customer number vs address may be just the ticket for some folks. 



HB 5692 & SB 2962 - RIVER OTTER-LIMIT

Synopsis as Introduced:
Amends the Wildlife Code. Deletes language providing that the season limit for river otter shall not exceed 5 river otters per person per season. Effective immediately

.
Once again clean and straightforward. As long our biologists have enough data to support it – I say fine. It gives the Director and IDNR the ability to set limits vs having them legislatively mandated.

HB 5317 - WILDLIFE-RESTITUTION VALUE

Synopsis as Introduced:
Amends the Wildlife Code. Raises the fair market value or replacement cost of various species protected by the Act. Provides that a person who possesses whitetail antlered deer, in whole or in part, captured or killed in violation of the Act, shall pay restitution to the Department of Natural Resources in the amount of $1,000 per whitetail antlered deer and an additional $500 per antler point, for each whitetail antlered deer with at least 8 but not more than 10 antler points. Provides that for whitetail antlered deer with 11 or more antler points, restitution of $1,000 shall be paid to the Department per whitehead antlered deer plus $750 per antler point. Defines “point”. Effective immediately.

This one I am good with. Matter of fact, I am really good with this one. It increases the restitution values of multiple species. The way I see it, the tougher we can make it on poachers and those hunting illegally, the more we get in their pockets, and the harsher sentences they can receive can only be a good thing.

HB 5293 - WILDLIFE-ENDANGERED SPECIES

Amends the Illinois Endangered Species Protection Act. Provides that a permit for incidental taking under the Act shall not be required if a federal conservation agreement, including but not limited to, a candidate conservation agreement, habit conservation plan, or safe harbor agreement, is in effect and approved by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service under the federal Endangered Species Act of 1973. Provides that in making Endangered Species Protection Board appointments of naturalists, the Governor shall give consideration to recommendations of conservation groups. Provides that of the remaining appointed members, 2 members shall be landowners representing the State’s largest general farm organization. Removes the exemption for notice or public hearing when the Endangered Species Protection Board automatically places a species or subspecies of an animal or plant on the Illinois endangered list after designation as endangered by the U.S. Secretary of Interior. Effective immediately.

Okay – in all honesty – this one is a little hard for me to decipher and pick apart. It does propose no new additions to the endangered species list without first having a public meeting/notice. That seems sensible enough. Stresses that the governor in his appointments to the board must give consideration to recommendations of conservation groups. Again, that seems reasonable and a good thing. Being honest, I do think agriculture should have a seat on the board, but I am not sure mandating exactly where those persons representing agriculture should come from is an especially good idea. We know the lobbying capability of the large ag groups in IL, and will they fight a listing of an endangered species if puts their members in a bind? Not too sure about that piece. Removing the requirement for IDNR to issue an incidental taking permit if there is a federal conservation plan in place, seems to remove a duplication of services, but also removes any opinions or looks by our own state agencies. This is one of those that indeed leaves me wondering why we need this change.  I need to be digging into this one a little deeper.

HB 5015 - DNR Programs Equipment

Amends the Department of Natural Resources (Conservation) Law of the Civil Administrative Code of Illinois. Amends provisions concerning the Department of Natural Resources Adopt-A-Park and Adopt-A-Trail programs. Provides that a volunteer may bring his or her own light equipment, including, but not limited to, a lawn mower, chainsaw, or other appropriate equipment to carry out functions granted by the Department at his or her own risk, so long as it does not interfere with work historically performed by Department employees.

Some I’ve spoken to seem to think this opens the door for volunteers to replace IDNR employees. I don’t see it that way. I see it for what it is; it allows volunteer groups to use their own equipment. Many of our sites have barely working equipment, or may not have exactly what is needed. If we want volunteers to be able to help with projects, we must stop tying their hands under the guise of protecting union jobs. Let’s face it, it’s not like any of our parks are suffering from an overabundance of staff, or staff that don’t have more than enough to do.

As always, I look forward to hearing what the Heartland community has to say about these pieces of legislation! I feel a bit like my old high school civics teacher who used to throw up a topic on the chalkboard and then turn to us and shout “DISCUSS! ” so Heartland friends, Let’s discuss!

 

Comments

LOL, the lottery solves all issues.  The lottery was going to be the educational savior for IL.  Latest number I could find was that the IL lottery makes up 7% of the total funding to IL schools.  A net sum of zero after the crooks in Springfield used the lottery funds as a shell game and stripped funding from the general fund that went to education.  Politicians love the windfall associated with gambling because there is no political fallout.  Free money if you will.  You can bet that if IDNR makes $100 from the lotto; $100 will be subtracted from some other source.  Would like to see a real solution for our State Parks.

Posted by buckbull on February 27

Yeah I don’t trust the lotto angle to generate additional monies.  As far as the duck blind 100 yard rule, I wonder what politician or big influence donor hunts in those few counties, somebody doesn’t like the neighbors down there.
God forbid they move the state blinds that border my property, well within a hundred yards and they inch them closer every year, but I’m not in the select counties and I’m sure state blinds would be exempt.

Posted by BIGPOND on February 27

The duck blind idea is a bad deal !!  What is next ?? We have seen this approach by anti hunting, and trapping groups, and it just plays right into their agenda. The anti groups would love nothing more than to see this bill passed, just gives them the green light to introduce likewise legislation, but directed at other pursuits. Watch this one !!

The river otter limit, now I’m on the fence with that one. Not sure their has been much new information/studies done after the inspection of the river otter season, and would like t know the DNR’s reason to remove the limit. Need more info I guess.

Ag, as no place in making decisions concerning the ESA when it pertains to wildlife/fauna !! We are talking about one, if not the largest contributing factor to habitat lose of wildlife within our state, and now you want them to have a say on the ESA. I know I’m going to get hammered for saying this, but is that not like letting the fox in the hen house ?? Why would agriculture want a say upon the ESA ?? Now give that a good long thought !! Agriculture has, and always will view wildlife, and wild fauna as a nuisance, that will never change, no matter how many filter strips they install, or how CRP ground they have. Their idea of conservation of habitat only applies if it benefits soil conservation at the same time, and soil conservation, and wildlife matters don’t always coincide. No thank you !!   

Posted by Ringtailtrapper on March 03

RTT - I hesitate to say this but I really think that duck blind business comes from everybody fussing and fighting in those counties over who is to close to who’s club/property. BUT as you have pointed out, it could be used by an anti neighbor who doesn’t want the pit that close to his property line just as easily.

One the river otter limit - if my understanding is correct, it just removes from the statute so that IDNR can adjust it through admin code updates. (could be wrong) but who knows if that will ultimately work out well. Will DNR look at listen to the science or the lobbyists when it comes to updating the admin code to set the limits each year.

Oh yep - your thoughts on the ESA pretty are much the same as mine. Yes, everyone affected should have a voice, but I can see where this is headed…..especially since that bill also mandates a public meeting before adding a species…and mandates “the largest farmers organization in the state”....I can see (especially when it comes to rare native plants) ag saying nope - to costly us, you can’t add that to the list. We know how effective their lobbying can be.

As always the devil is the details in these bills - SIGH long tired sigh

Posted by G on March 03

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