By Jim Hagerty
Some Illinois senior citizens may soon be able to hunt and fish in the state without purchasing a license.
Under House Bill 4329, Illinois residents 75 and older would not be charged for a fishing or hunting license. The bill was approved by the House Agriculture and Conservation Committee this week.
Currently, annual fishing licenses are $15. Standard hunting licenses are $12.50. Residents older than 65 now pay half-price.
While the bill has significant support in the House, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) says the measure could cost the department a minimum of around a quarter-million dollars a year and eliminate at least two jobs.
“It will be about a $260,000 loss of revenue,” IDNR spokesman Mark Stevens said. “A loss in revenue to the Fish and Wildlife Fund would be a loss in headcount. It’s not like we can just take this money and absorb it somewhere else. These are people’s salaries.”
The bill was sponsored by state Rep. Jack Franks, D-Marengo, who said fixed-income seniors are having difficulty sparing the cost for the permits.
Franks said, “With the cost of groceries and medical care and everything else going up, even a relatively small expenditure like a fishing permit can be prohibitive.”
The House committee approved the bill 11-2. It now heads to the full House for further discussion.
Posted March 21, 2014