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The Senate Natural Resources Committee today amended Senate Bill 314 and sent it to the full Senate. Earlier this year, the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) asked the Kansas Legislature to consider eliminating the hunting and fishing license exemptions for persons 65 years of age and older. The committee held hearings on the bill on February 17 and March 1.

The state’s wildlife and fisheries programs are funded by license/permit fees and a federal match from the excise tax paid by hunters and anglers on equipment they buy (these revenues can only be used to fund wildlife and fisheries programs; they cannot be used for state parks). The state’s share of the federal excise tax is based on the number of hunting and fishing licenses sold. Removing the senior exemption or charging seniors a reduced fee allows Kansas to capture the federal excise tax for seniors who hunt and fish. The amended bill would give senior residents two options for buying discounted hunting/fishing licenses. Either option would bring federal excise taxes back to Kansas, and help the agency achieve a more stable and consistent revenue stream.

Under one option, seniors could purchase a lifetime combination senior hunting/fishing pass, which would likely cost $40.00 (excluding a vendor and convenience fee). The agency believes this is the lowest amount the department could charge and still safely claim the federal matching funds – amortized over 18 years per pass. The cost would be set by the Kansas Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Commission through a change in regulation, and the amount could not exceed one-eighth of the fee for a regular lifetime combination hunting/fishing license.

The second option would be for seniors to purchase an annual half-price hunting, fishing or combination hunting/fishing license up to the age of 75, with no license required for those 75 years of age and older. Under the current pricing structure, the senior annual hunting and fishing licenses would be $9.00 each, and the senior annual combination hunting/fishing license would be $18.00 (excluding a $2.50 vendor and convenience fee for each license).

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