BILL ANALYSIS Senate Appropriations Committee Fiscal Summary Senator Christine Kehoe, Chair 1179 (Hollingsworth) Hearing Date: 05/27/2010 Amended: 04/19/2010 Consultant: Brendan McCarthy Policy Vote: NR&W 6-3 SB 1179 (Hollingsworth), Page 2 _________________________________________________________________ ____ BILL SUMMARY: SB 1179 establishes two free hunting days per year, on which any California resident may hunt in the state without a hunting license. _________________________________________________________________ ____ Fiscal Impact (in thousands) Major Provisions 2010-11 2011-12 2012-13 Fund Increased enforcement Up to $130 per year Special * Reduced license and tagUnknown, likely more than $180 per yearSpecial * revenues * Fish and Game Preservation Fund. _________________________________________________________________ ____ STAFF COMMENTS: SUSPENSE FILE. Current law requires individuals to possess a hunting license to take birds or mammals in the state. In order to get a hunting license, individuals must complete a hunter education course and pay a license fee. (The hunter education course must only be taken once.) In addition to the licensing requirement, hunters are required to purchase a "tag" for certain species, allowing them to take that species under specified criteria (e.g. in specified seasons, in certain areas, and in certain numbers). Some tags are offered for sale to any licensed hunter, while others are available only by lottery. The current license fee for California residents is $39.50 and common tags generally range in price between $8 and $30 for California residents. (Certain tags, particularly those that are only available by lottery, cost considerably more.) SB 1179 requires the Fish and Game Commission to establish two free hunting days per year. On those days, any California resident is eligible to hunt without a hunting license, provided that the unlicensed hunter is accompanied by a licensed hunter who is over 18 years of age and has had a hunting license for three years. The bill authorizes the Department of Fish and Game to required that unlicensed hunters demonstrate that they are SB 1179 (Hollingsworth), Page 2 capable safely operating a firearm. The bill authorizes federally licensed firearm dealers, their employees, certified hunter education instructors, and licensed hunters who have had a license for three consecutive years to certify that an unlicensed hunter is capable of safely operating a firearm. The bill allows the Department to prohibit unlicensed hunters from taking species that require a tag granted by lottery or draw or species that also require a federal tag to take. Given the potential for a large number of inexperienced hunters in the field on the proposed free hunting days, the Department is likely to increase Game Warden staffing levels on those days. The Department indicates that it would likely attempt to put up to 90 percent of its wardens into the field on those days, which would be almost double the number of personnel in the field on any given day. If the Department does not reduce other enforcement activities on non-free hunting days, much of the additional hours worked by wardens on the free hunting days would be overtime hours and would result in increased staff costs. The Department estimates the additional cost for enforcement could be up to $130,000 per year. Because this bill authorizes unlicensed hunting twice per year, it is possible that some currently licensed hunters may elect not to purchase a hunting license and instead would go hunting only on the free hunting days. The number of hunters who would do so is unknown. However, if only one percent of licensed hunters elected not to purchase a hunting license (and related tags), the revenue loss would be about $180,000 per year.