SACRAMENTO — A light has finally appeared at the end of the tunnel for California anglers, as the latest attempt to change the state’s sportfishing licensing system to a 12-month regime finally made it out of the Assembly Appropriations Committee.
State Sen. Tom Berryhill’s efforts to have annual sportfishing licenses available to anglers could make its way to the governor’s desk if the full Assembly votes in favor of Senate Bill 518 (SB 518) ahead of the Aug. 31 legislative deadline.
Whether the 12-month license system makes it to the governor’s desk for signature remains to be seen, but the fact it cleared out of the Assembly Appropriations Committee is a significant step in the right direction. Similar proposals in recent years have died in the same committee.
The Appropriations Committee vote was 17-0. State senators approved the bill on May 31 by a 31-8 vote.
Anglers and fishing activists believed a similar annual license proposal was on track to make it out of the legislature in 2017, but the bill – also proposed by Berryhill – was killed in the same Appropriations Committee despite no known opposition on record.
Two other sportfishing bills, however, did not make it out of Appropriations and won’t be moving forward this legislative session. Assembly Bill 986 (AB 986) and Assembly Bill 2465 (AB 2465) are dead. AB 986, like SB 518, pushed for a 12-month sportfishing license system but also called for a veteran’s discount. AB 2465, meanwhile, proposed to create a standing group – Recruitment, Retention and Reactivation, or R3 – to identify potential barriers to sportfishing and their effects on license sales. Both proposals, which were introduced by Assembly member James Gallagher, R-Chico, were held in the State Senate Committee on Appropriations.
“The results were mixed and we have several more hurdles to clear before SB 518 goes to the governor’s desk,” Marko Mlikotin, executive director of the California Sportfishing League, said in a statement.” It is remarkable to note that SB 518 made it out of the Assembly Appropriations Committee, a graveyard for past fishing license bills.”
Dept. of Fish and Wildlife photo