The long awaited bill re Financial Sustainability for Colorado Parks and Wildlife was killed in the Colorado Senate Finance Committee on May 4 by a 3-2 vote. Sad Outcome!! It had passed the Colorado House Agriculture, Livestock & Natural Resources Committee on an 8-5 vote on April 17 and House Finance Committee 11-2 on Aprtil 19, and then House Appropriations Committee. The bill passed the full House on April 28 on a 42-22 vote.
The bill, HB 17-1321, would have authorized the Colorado Parks and Wildlfie Commission to raise resident hunting and fishing license fees by up to 50% over time. The bill also addresses aquatic nuisance species and creates a sticker fund to finance boat inspections. CWF testified in favor of the bill but noted 2 sections that were problematic concerning the resident hunting and fishing license fee increase. The license replacement cost provision in Section 7 was punitive as it greatly exceeded administrative cost. The House Ag Committee voted to amend the provision to change the cost to $25, in alignment with administrative cost. Section 4 provided that the “Commission shall not use revenue generated from any increased license fee amounts authorized by House Bill 17-1321 for the purchase of any fee title interest in real property, including water.” CWF had expressed great concern in a letter written to members of the Committee on April 7. In our view, because Colorado Parks and Wildlife has used fee title acquisitions tool sparingly, it is unnecssary to include a provision that addresses fee title acquisitions in this bill. In fact, since 2007, of the 250,000 acres in which CPW acquired an interest, only 11,000 acres are in fee title. The House Ag Committee amended the section with a compromise that lists high priority needs that include dam repairs, fish hatchery renovation and public access easement development and expenditure of new funds for fee title acquisition is a last resort. In our CWF testimony, we stated support for the compromise on Section 4 because the overall bill is important and necessary. The bill next was heard in the House Finance Committee on April 19 and passed 11-2, passed the House Appropriations Committee and passed the full House on April 28 on a 42-22 vote. It was introduced in the State House on April 6.