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2013 Legislative Update

Article By 
Greg Freeman
2013 Legislative Update

Increases in North Dakota hunting, fishing and boat registration fees passed in March by the state legislature will not take effect until 2014.

Terry Steinwand, North Dakota Game and Fish Department director, said the Department is a special fund agency using only hunting, fishing and boat license revenue, and federal funding derived from excise taxes on the sale of hunting and fishing equipment, as well as a portion of the federal motor boat fuels tax.

“Per North Dakota Century Code, Game and Fish cannot allow the fund balance to fall below $15 million unless authorized by the budget section of the legislature,” Steinwand said. “The fund balance, with no additional revenue sources, was projected to decrease to approximately $15 million by June 30, 2015.”

SB 2231 increases the fees of 13 resident licenses, 14 nonresident licenses and three classes of boat registrations. The current three-year boat registration cycle runs through December, and 2013-14 hunting and fishing licenses are in effect through next March. Therefore, registration fees for boat owners will go up January 1, 2014, while hunters and anglers will see the license increase starting in April 2014.

“This is the first time in many years we’ve seen such a wide range of license fee increases,” Steinwand said. “State legislators, hunters and anglers voiced overwhelming support during committee hearings and voting on the floor. We heard that same type of support at statewide advisory board meetings last fall.”

Steinwand said the main issue the legislature deliberated was how much of an increase was appropriate. “There were some avid hunters and anglers in the state who wanted to see a substantial increase in prices to support habitat, enforcement, fisheries and access, but it was important that the increases didn’t price anyone out of the outdoors experience,” he said. “The feedback we’ve been getting from hunters and anglers is that this legislation strikes the right balance.”

Despite these increases, Steinwand said North Dakota hunting and fishing licenses are still less expensive than equivalent licenses in surrounding states.

Senate Bill 2231 passed the House by a vote of 77-15 and the Senate 39-6.

Effective January 1, 2014, the cost to license a motorboat under 16 feet in length, and all canoes, will increase from $12 to $18; motorboats from 16 feet to less than 20 feet in length from $24 to $36; and motorboats at least 20 feet in length from $33 to $45.

Effective April 1, 2014:

  • Resident small game hunting license will increase from $6 to $10.
  • Nonresident small game hunting license from $85 to $100.
  • Resident big game hunting license from $20 to $30 (youth big game license remains at $10).
  • Nonresident big game hunting license from $200 to $250.
  • Nonresident big game bowhunting license from $200 to $250.
  • Resident furbearer license from $7 to $15.
  • Resident wild turkey license from $8 to $15.
  • Combination license from $32 to $50.
  • Nonresident waterfowl zone hunting license from $85 to $100.
  • Statewide nonresident waterfowl license from $125 to $150.
  • Nonresident furbearer and nongame license from $25 to $40.
  • Resident swan license from $5 to $10.
  • Nonresident swan license from $25 to $30.
  • Resident crane license from $5 to $10.
  • Nonresident crane license from $5 to $30.
  • Nonresident reciprocal trapping license from $250 to $350.

In addition, the resident application fee for moose, elk and bighorn sheep will increase from $3 to $5, and a habitat restoration stamp required for the general game license increases from $10 to $17, with $8 (instead of $5) of each habitat stamp sold placed in the Game and Fish Department’s private land habitat and access improvement fund.

Changes to fishing licenses effective April 1, 2014 include:

  • Resident fishing license will increase from $10 to $16.
  • Resident age 65 and older or permanently disabled fishing license from $3 to $5.
  • Resident husband and wife fishing license from $14 to $22.
  • Resident paddlefish tag from $3 to $10.
  • Nonresident paddlefish tag from $7.50 to $25.50.
  • Nonresident husband and wife fishing license from $45 to $60.
  • Nonresident fishing license from $35 to $45.
  • Nonresident three-day fishing license from $15 to $25.
  • Nonresident 10-day fishing license from $25 to $35.

In addition to the license fee increase bill, state lawmakers considered 35 bills regarding hunters, anglers and the state’s natural resources. New laws take effect August 1, 2013, unless noted otherwise.

Other Outdoor-Related Bills That Passed
HB 1017 Appropriates $67,553,639 for the Game and Fish Department for the biennium beginning July 1, 2013 and ending June 30, 2015. Passed House 84-6. Passed Senate 47-0.
HB 1062 – Removes a person’s ability to appeal to a district court a decision made by the water resource board regarding removal or closing of a noncomplying dam, dike or other device. Passed House 93-0. Passed Senate 46-0.
HB 1123 – Removes the requirement that a driver of a vehicle involved in an accident with an undomesticated animal, such as a deer, needs to notify law enforcement authorities. Passed House 84-6. Passed Senate 46-0.
HB 1130 Requires each county auditor to implement a computerized online licensing system by March 1, 2015, and each agent appointed by a county auditor by March 1, 2016. Passed House 81-12. Passed Senate 45-0.
This bill mandates all license sales be made online beginning April 2016. The license will be purchased through a Game and Fish web-based online system to electronically record the license sale. The system run by vendors looks similar to that currently on the Game and Fish website, but the method of applying for the license is slightly different. If an applicant applies online at home, it is credit card only. At vendors, an applicant can still use cash or a check and the vendor will record the sale using the online system.
“A major advantage of county auditors/vendors going online is the Department will have a real time total of the number of licenses sold instead of waiting for paper licenses to be collected and counted at the end of the season,” Steinwand said.
HB 1131 – Addresses eligibility requirements for landowner deer gratis licenses and defines at what age an individual can apply for and participate in the deer season. Passed House 85-6. Passed Senate 35-11.
Several changes are a result of HB 1131:

Gratis License
  • An individual who turns age 14 in the same year as the respective big game hunting season can apply for a license. Previously, the individual had to turn age 14 before end of the respective season.
  • An individual who turns age 12 in the same year as the youth deer season can receive an antlerless white-tailed deer license for the youth season. Previously, the youth hunter had to turn age 12 prior to opening day of the youth deer season.
  • Trusts and life estates are now eligible to apply for a gratis deer license. Only one individual listed in the trust or life estate is eligible to receive a deer license, not multiple licenses for the trust or life estate.
  • The acreage of land owned or leased for agricultural purposes was changed from 160 acres to 150 acres, thus changing eligibility for a gratis deer, pronghorn or moose license.  Additionally, preferential landowner eligibility for elk licenses has been changed (preferential in the fact that they can obtain the license but must pay the appropriate fee).
  • Gratis applications must be received by the regular deer gun lottery deadline in order to be issued an “any legal deer” license. Any gratis application received after the deadline could still be issued a gratis deer license, but only for the sex and species remaining after the first lottery, which are typically antlerless (doe) licenses.

This bill carries an emergency clause, which makes it effective immediately.

HB 1161 – Clarifies and defines eligibility requirements for a resident hunting and fishing license, effective April 1, 2014. Passed House 91-0. Passed Senate 46-0.
Basically, this bill requires anyone age 18 and older purchasing or applying for a resident hunting or
fishing license to submit a valid North Dakota driver’s license number or a North Dakota identification number. In addition, a nonresident student living in North Dakota and attending a North Dakota school who is applying for a license at the resident rate, must submit a valid student identification number.

HB 1195 Allows an individual to show proof of a hunting or fishing license in paper or electronic format. Passed House 87-0. Passed Senate 46-0.

“This bill recognizes current technology when presenting a hunting or fishing license in the field,” Steinwand said. “This is along the lines of continued migration to online licensing and the increasing use of technology, such as smart phones.”

HB 1224 – Carrying a loaded firearm in a vehicle while hunting carries a Class 2 noncriminal offense. Passed House 92-1. Passed Senate 46-0.
HB 1247 – Requires the agriculture commissioner to create and maintain an electronic database of wetland credits that are available for purchase by an agricultural landowner. Passed House 91-2. Passed Senate 47-0.
HB 1264 – Addresses the issue of Canada goose depredation that occurs during the spring and summer months in North Dakota, and provides additional direction to the Department as it relates to reducing goose depredation on high value commodity crops such as soybeans and corn. In addition, HB 1264 allows a nonresident to hunt statewide during the entire early Canada goose season at a license fee of $50 without counting against the 14-day regular season license; residents have to pay $5 to hunt during the early season. Passed House 92-0. Passed Senate 46-0.
The bill requires the Department to: 1) establish an online application process for kill permits, 2) advertise the availability of kill permits in appropriate publications, and 3) to establish a system where volunteer hunters can assist landowners in Canada goose kill permit activities.
“Requiring the purchase of specific early Canada goose season licenses will allow Game and Fish to document and analyze participation and harvest levels by resident and nonresident hunters,” Steinwand said.
HB 1278 – Creates a North Dakota outdoor heritage fund which helps provide access to private and public lands and develop fish and wildlife habitat. Passed House 48-44. Passed Senate 33-12.
HB 1282 – Allows an individual in lawful possession of a device that will silence or deaden the sound when the firearm is discharged to hunt game for which the individual is licensed. Passed House 90-2. Passed Senate 29-17.
HB 1322 – Requires pending land acquisition by Game and Fish to be appraised prior to purchase. Before appraisal, the Game and Fish director must give notice to every landowner within one mile of the boundary, and to the board of county commissioners, and publish a notice in the official county newspaper. Passed House 94-0. Passed Senate 45-0.
Previously, approval by the governor and the budget section of the legislature was required prior to purchase of any land and only at appraised value with few exceptions. This bill does not give veto authority to any entity.
HB 1336 – Allows the governor’s proclamation to establish the number of paddlefish snagging tags available and the manner of issuance. Passed House 88-3. Passed Senate 47-0.
North Dakota’s paddlefish snagging season dates back to 1976. Since 1992, this fishery has been intensively managed and researched by the Game and Fish Department in cooperation with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. To protect the paddlefish population from overharvest, an annual harvest cap of up to 1,000 paddlefish per state has been in place for years. Due to fewer paddlefish and more and more individuals snagging for paddlefish, the snagging season that is supposed to last the entire month of May is often open for only a week, and has closed early in 10 of the past 12 years.
To better manage this important fishery, Steinwand said a lottery system implemented through the governor’s fishing proclamation will be used to allocate paddlefish tags. “This will enable the Department to more effectively manage this fishery, and furthermore those who receive a lottery tag will be ensured that the paddlefish season will not close early, and they will be able to more leisurely enjoy their pursuit,” he said. “A lottery system will greatly alleviate the crowded conditions.”
HB1338 Requires the Board of University and School Lands to study, during the 2013-14 interim, options to address the concerns of landowners adjacent to land under the control of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers surrounding Lake Sakakawea and Lake Oahe. Passed house 89-0. Passed Senate 46-1.
The study must include consideration of control of noxious weeds, protecting public access for hunting and fishing, and the costs associated with any land transfer.
HB 1354 – Issues four any-deer and six any-whitetail licenses annually to the Injured Military Wildlife Project of North Dakota (currently known as Wounded Warrior Project). Passed House 92-0. Passed Senate 46-0.
HB 1434 – Allows a resident disabled veteran, with a 50 percent service related disability, to qualify for a $5 fishing license. Passed House 92-0. Passed Senate 45-1.
SB 2211 – Relates to the duties of the State Board of Animal Health and the treatment of animals. Passed Senate 43-3. Passed House 80-12.
SB 2242 – Allows a North Dakota disabled veteran, with a 100 percent service related disability, to purchase a combined general game, habitat, small game and furbearer license for $3. Passed Senate 44-0. Passed House 92-0.
SB 2279 Requires legislative management to consider studying the benefits and implications on tax policy of the forestry stewardship tax and report its findings to the 64th legislative assembly. Passed Senate 46-1. Passed House 88-5.
Steinwand said this is an important study and he hopes the legislature selects this topic for study over the next two years. “Hopefully, this process will result in a law change and more participation by the counties which would be important for forest and wildlife conservation in North Dakota,” he said.
HCR 3010 – A concurrent resolution urging Congress and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to ensure that access to Lake Sakakawea and Lake Oahe for agriculture, commerce, energy and water development, and recreation is not inhibited by unreasonable regulations and to address proper funding for all project purposes and weed control on Lake Sakakawea and Lake Oahe. Lake, dock and shoreline access must be included as agenda items to be discussed in a public hearing held in North Dakota in 2013. House adopted. Senate adopted.
HCR 3017 – A concurrent resolution urging the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Service to fairly administer water management laws and regulations in a manner that allows landowners and tenants certainty and cooperation in the management of these laws and regulations. House adopted. Senate adopted.

Bills That Failed
HB 1141 Would have allowed an individual of at least age 16 to windsurf or boardsail without wearing a life jacket; would have prohibited an individual from towing another individual on water skis, surfboard or other similar device between one hour after sunset to one hour before sunrise; and would have allowed a vessel equipped with a mirror and a wide field of vision to the rear to replace an observer while towing an individual on water skis, surfboard or similar device. Passed House 78-9. Failed Senate 16-31.
HB 1151 – Would have allowed a member of the United States armed forces stationed in North Dakota, and an individual in the member’s family if residing in the same household, to enter the lottery for deer and turkey licenses as a resident, even if the member or the individual in the member’s family is a nonresident. Failed House 27-59.
HB 1169 – Would have allowed the court to suspend hunting, fishing and trapping privileges as a sentencing alternative. Passed House 72-22. Failed Senate 10-36.
HB 1312 – Would have required the Game and Fish Department to establish a boat landing on the former Missouri River correctional center property after the center is relocated to the youth correctional center site. Passed House 87-6. Failed Senate 3-44.
HB 1313 – Would have established a nonresident early Canada goose license for $50; and would have allowed nonresidents to hunt during the early Canada goose season in Richland, Sargent and Dickey counties without counting against the 14-day waterfowl license. Failed House 5-87.
HB 1370 – Would have allowed the Game and Fish director to raise hunting and fishing license fees by up to 20 percent per biennium. Failed House 26-67.
HB 1416 – Would have prohibited a person from possessing a large capacity ammunition feeding device of more than 10 rounds. Withdrawn from consideration.
SB 2221 – Would have appropriated out of any moneys in the special road fund in the state treasury, not otherwise appropriated, the sum of $20 million or so much of the sum as may be necessary, to the Department of Transportation for the purpose of providing grants to counties and townships for roadway improvements to scenic byway roads, scenic backway roads, and roads that provide access to recreational areas, for the biennium beginning July 1, 2013, and ending June 30, 2015. In addition, the special road committee could have distributed a maximum of $2.5 million of grants for projects located within the boundaries of each Department of Transportation district in the state. Passed Senate 30-17. Failed House 33-59.
SB 2248 – Would have allowed a nonresident waterfowl hunter to purchase an additional seven-day waterfowl license for $125. Failed Senate 23-23.
SB 2365 – Would have prohibited an individual from discharging a firearm on, over or within the right of way of a paved, gravel or loose surface highway, county road or township road at a big game animal. Failed Senate 1-46.
SCR 4027 – A concurrent resolution that would have created an outdoor heritage fund from 4 percent of the total revenues from oil and gas production and extraction taxes and have allowed the fund to be administered by the outdoor heritage commission for clean water, lands and outdoor heritage. Failed senate 10-36.
SCR 4029 – A concurrent resolution that would have directed legislative management to study the economic activity surrounding the three units of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park and the North Dakota badlands, including the Little Missouri River, to determine the best practices for sustaining and enhancing this unique and special part of North Dakota and the related tourism, recreation, oil and gas development, livestock and grassland-based agriculture, hunting, historical attractions and quality of life. Failed Senate on verification vote.