The following is from Charlie Charlesworth, President of the Pennsylvania Council of Trout Unlimited. Please share this with your family and friends and contact your Representatives to urge them to not support Senate Bill 935.
The Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission (PFBC) is an independent agency supported by license and registration fees for anglers and boaters. Raising these fees requires action by the General Assembly — which has not approved an increase in 12 years. As a result, the PFBC has had to cut staff and defer maintenance. Last month, the commission cleared the way for more severe cuts.
Legislation to fix this problem is languishing in Harrisburg. Instead, lawmakers are considering a separate bill that would interfere with the Commission’s independence by imposing an eight-year term limit on the executive director. This would effectively force the PFBC to select a new leader early next year.
We oppose this legislation for two reasons:
(1) It upends the tried-and-true process by which Commissioners decide when it is time for fresh leadership.
(2) It distracts from the main issue at hand, which is the need to put the PFBC on sound financial footing so it can do the critical work of protecting and enhancing our fisheries.
This legislation, Senate Bill 935, has cleared the Senate and is awaiting action in the House.
Please reach out to your House representative today and make your voice heard on this issue.
First, visit this page to find your legislator, then call or email to urge him or her to oppose Senate Bill 935.
Phone numbers and email addresses can be found here.
We would suggest using the follow sample comments in your messages or conversations:
Dear Rep. [name]:
I’m writing in opposition to Senate Bill 935, establishing a term limit on the executive director of the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission. This bill would threaten the independence of the PFBC and upset the normal process by which Commissioners decide when it is time for a change in leadership. More importantly, it would fail to address the underlying fiscal issues that plague the agency.
It’s understandable that PFBC leaders, who are charged with safeguarding our fisheries, and lawmakers, who provide necessary public oversight, are frustrated that the Commission’s financial shortfalls are not being addressed. And it’s regrettable that debate about this issue has become so contentious.
I’m an angler and conservationist, and I support legislation that would allow the PFBC to raise its license fees so it can get back on sound financial footing. It has been 12 years since the last fee increase. Sportsmen like me are willing to pay a little more, because we know first-hand how much the Commission does to protect and enhance Pennsylvania’s economically valuable fisheries.
Unfortunately, Senate Bill 935 does nothing to move the PFBC closer to a stable balance sheet. I would urge you to oppose this bill, and instead work with your colleagues to pass legislation like Senate Bill 30 that would allow PFBC to get back to the job of protecting our streams and our fisheries.