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Recent entries


Through the Lens

House Bill 3750 Proposes Free Licenses for Law Enforcement

Fri, April 21, 2017


HB 3750 introduced recently by Rep. Katie Stuart (D) of the 112th district amends the Fish and Aquatic Life Code and the Wildlife Code and provides that the respective fees for resident fishing, combination sportsmen, and hunting licenses are waived for current and retired State, municipal, and local law enforcement officers.

What’s to argue with there? It shows strong support for our law enforcement officers, both current and retired. It’s an action and a piece of legislation that feels all warm and fuzzy. It feels good. In an era when law enforcement seems to be constantly coming under the gun from a multitude of directions, it certainly sends the message that someone cares about them. It’s not a surprise that the bill passed out of committee in late March. On the surface it seems like a great andgenerous thing to do.

BUT – and it’s a big BUT – what’s the fiscal implication of this feel good, warm and fuzzy piece of proposed legislation.

At a time when DNR is facing so many budgetary constraints, does it really make sense to pull more from that very budget?
It really does not seem prudent to even consider this potential loss of funds – as evidenced by the fiscal note filed by DNR.

“Loss of both license sale revenue (hunting/fishing) and federal reimbursement funding totals approximately $96,095 annually. This estimate does not include the annual impact by retired officers. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife and Fisheries divisions DO NOT receive General Revenue Funds from the State of Illinois. Revenue for conservation work, aquatic habitat enhancement, fish stocking and research is generated by the sale of licenses, stamps, permits and other fees. Eroding the pool of funds available by making hunting and fishing privileges free to certain classes of hunters and anglers would continue to reduce the Department’s capacity .”

The additional Balanced Budget Note filed by the OMB goes into even more detail about the financial implications.

“In total, estimated revenue to the state would be reduced by more than $100,000 annually if House Bill 3750 were to become law due to less revenues in hunting and fishing license sales and federal reimbursement. According to the Department of Natural Resources, the loss of hunting license revenue for active police officers is estimated at $37,000 annually. This includes an estimated $12,000 directly from license revenue, plus $25,000 in federal apportionment funding. Additionally, the Department of Natural Resources estimates the loss of fishing license revenue for active police officers to be $59,095 annually. This includes an estimated $33,450 due to the loss in license revenues plus $25,645 in lost federal apportionment funds. Based on active police officers, the estimated loss in revenue would be $96,095. House Bill 3750 includes waivers for both active and retired officers, however at this time the fiscal impact can only be estimated for active law enforcement officers. As such, the fiscal impact of House Bill 3750 is likely to be greater than the above estimates due to the non-inclusion of retired law enforcement officers in the estimates. According to the Department of Natural Resources, conservation work, aquatic habitat enhancement, fish stocking, and research is funded by the sale of licenses, stamps, permits and other fees. Reducing the pool of funds available by making hunting and fishing privileges free to certain classes of hunters and anglers would reduce the capacity of the Department of Natural Resources to fund these duties and if continued could require reductions in service or general funds to support these functions.”

I get that in the grand scheme of the entire financial mess that is our current reality, these seem like pretty insignificant dollar amounts. After all, what’s a mere 100,000 dollars give or take when DNR has an 800 million maintenance backlog and there are state parks that have ZERO assigned staff?
It may seem insignificant, but those dollars do indeed count. In this fiscal climate EVERY penny counts. Every single penny.

The next issue with this piece of legislation is the precedent it sets – Essentially a certain user group or class of sportsmen is given free privileges.  That opens the door for additional classes or user groups to also seek a waiver of fees. How do we effectively decide who is and isn’t worthy of hunting and fishing for free?

As much as I support the members of our law enforcement ranks, I just can’t get behind this bill. Not when it threatens the financial status of our already cash strapped and struggling DNR.  Heck, even though I don’t HAVE to buy my licenses because I hold a P2 card, I still do, just to contribute to the cause.

It will be interesting to see how this bill progresses or if it the fiscal issues associated with it cause it to die on the vine.

What say you Heartland friends and readers? Is a show of support for our law enforcement officers worth the loss to the DNR coffers?



Slippery slope. This nonsense started with discounted youth and elderly licenses.  Now Katie “Madigan Puppet” Stuart wants to give hand outs to law enforcement.  Then it will be handouts to veterans.  Then it will be handouts for state employees.  Then it will be a handout to those on welfare, Etc, Etc, Etc.  Good grief, I’ve never heard so much bitching about a measly $40 in my life.  For ~$40 a sportsman license gives an IL resident the opportunity to hunt and/or fish every day of the year.  That’s the best $40 I’ll spend all year by far.

Posted by buckbull on April 21

Have to agree with you BuckBull - It always amazes me that so often the same folks who complain so very loudly about the cost of their respective hunting or fishing license, do so while making a more costly one time trip through a fast food drive up window or fancy coffee shop wink

Posted by G on April 21

I would say yes to all veterans and children.

No to every one else.

Posted by Gobble Gobble on April 21

I agree also with Buckbull children yes and veteran yes only if they where war veterans not just retired military.It amazes me that we already pay there very nice pensions and now this ?? what next get them a car to I think they have no problem paying for there own licenses if you where to ask them I’m sure they would agree they don’t need that handout. JMO

Posted by Mazakbill on April 21

As a Marine veteran of Vietnam, I’m opposed to free licenses to veterans, even war veterans.  The VAST majority of veterans get on their feet and become above average wage earners, as statistics form Vietnam vets proved.  No thank you, I don’t want a handout. Besides, if you are disabled vet, you already get a free license. 
Free licenses for law enforcement makes ZERO sense.  Generally, be it city, county or state, law enforcement officers are some of the highest paid and have better pension programs than other employees of that government entity.  Granted, they have a thankless, dangerous job, but they are well compensated, both on the job and in retirement.  Thus, IMHO, they can well afford to pay for their licenses.

Posted by riverrat47 on April 21

youth and seniors - and obviously disabled vets - are the ones who should be allowed free licenses
more youth need to be introduced to hunting and fishing, and most seniors have bought licenses their entire lives and should get a break once they are on a fixed income
people with good-paying jobs - like law enforcement - do not need to be getting freebies at the expense of the budget-strapped dnr

Posted by TurkHunter on April 22

I’m 70 and retired.  Do I get a break on my license plates just because I’ve been buying them since I was 16?  NO.  Do I get a break on my drivers license fee just because I’ve been buying them for 54 years? NO.
I distinctly remember when IDNR put in the 50% senior license, while surrounding states were charging seniors full fare.  Seniors squealed like mashed cats.  One older acquaintance told me he was going to give up fishing and hunting.  In later discussions, he mentioned the local public golf course had raised their annual senior greens fees by $140.00.  The course was closed four months per year and seniors could only use the their discount on weekdays…weekends they paid full fee.  Neither he nor his golfing buddies had a problem with that.  Go figure.
I’ve got several friends that play the fixed income card at every opportunity although they are doing far better than me, and I’m doing OK.  You would think that they were paupers until you see their vehicles, toys, etc. 
IMHO, if you can afford the bait, tackle, guns, shells, etc., you can afford the license.

Posted by riverrat47 on April 22

congrats on your retirement, riverrat. 
i retired at age 59 and use my SS check for mainly gas, beer and hunting and fishing, but i know seniors who really do live on a fixed income without benefit of pensions, 401k, etc. just my opinion, but giving them a break on a hunting/fishing license wont crush the dnr budget
my main point from the above post was that working people with well-paying jobs should not get free licenses with the dnr in the shape it is

Posted by TurkHunter on April 23

The problem with this type of approach is that it directly effects federal monies that come back to the state ( If we are ever allowed them again in the future)for a whole assortment of other programs. We keep diluting the pool of revenue, then at some point the DNR will have nothing to work with. Maybe in truth that is the goal ???

Posted by Ringtailtrapper on April 23

One of the problems with this legislation that it only targets a select group within the group, that is officers who hunt and fish.  If you truly want to say thank you in a financial way to those officers, then do it for all.  The problem then becomes where do you stop the buck - what about firefighters, paramedics, those in the service or any other dangerous jobs, like loggers and of course anyone who lives in Chicago.  Just can’t keep giving away free stuff.  I’d be for a reduction in politicians pay and benefits to fund it tho.

Posted by BIGPOND on April 25

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