Junior Sportfishing License bill might die in legislature

SACRAMENTO — A political attempt to revive sportfishing activities in California is not going so well as Senate Bill 345 (SB 345) might not make it out of the legislature.

An effort to increase recreational fishing participation is on the verge of stalling almost as quickly as it was revived as SB 345, which aimed to reduce the cost of annual pass rates for youth anglers, was placed on the legislature’s suspense file.

It is the second time this legislative session SB 345, originally known as the Sportfishing Stimulus Act of 215, failed to gain broad support in the State Assembly.

State Sen. Tom Berryhill (R-Twain Harte) introduced SB 345 in February 2015 to address California’s declining angling participation and revitalize fishing license sales.

While the bill won in the State Senate it never made it out of committee in the Assembly. SB 345 was mostly gutted in June 2015 and subsequently fell off the radar.

Almost one year later SB 345 made a comeback as Berryhill altered the proposal to stimulate fishing license sales among 16- and 17-year-old anglers. Licenses would be offered to anglers in these age groups at a discounted, non-adult rate.

The Assembly’s Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee approved the reincarnated bill by a 15-0 vote on June 28.

An attempt to create a Junior Sportfishing License for 16- and 17-year-old anglers stalled a few weeks later, however, as SB 345 was placed on the suspense file on Aug. 3.

Being placed on the suspense file does not necessarily mean the bill is dead. The proposed legislation could be heard at a hearing shortly after being placed on the suspense file.

SB 345 would officially breathe its last breath this legislative session if it does not gain favor of the appropriations committee and remains on the suspense file.

The Sportfishing Stimulus Act of 2015 originally proposed the state offer anglers a 12-month fishing license, allowing them to fish for 52 consecutive weeks from the date the permit was purchased. Anglers currently pay the same for a fishing license regardless of when it was purchased. Accordingly someone who purchased a fishing license on Aug. 15 would pay the same fee as another angler who bought an angling permit on Jan. 1. Both permits would expire on Dec. 31.

All bills in the current session must be voted on by Aug. 31. If SB 345 is taken off the suspense file and approved by the Assembly then it would head to Gov. Jerry Brown for approval or veto.

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