This is how the trout license plate should work. HB 730 lowers your fee for a trout license plate to $25 per year and waives the manufacturing fee. $19 of the first year fee and $20 or renewals would be sent to GA DNR for trout management. Now that’s a deal!
However, the bill is stalled in the House Motor Vehicles Committee and has not even been considered for a vote! HB 730’s sponsor, Rep. Bubber Epps, needs your help. Please:
1. Call Chairman Tom Rice at 404-656-5912 or email email@example.com and ask him to bring HB 730 up for a committee vote.
HB 730 has been introduced changing plate fees and funds directed to GA DNR Wildlife Resources for trout, bobwhite quail and non-game wildlife management and habitat improvement. The $35 license plate manufacturing fee would be waived and the tag fee reduced from $35 to $25. $20 of the fee would be directed to GA DNR WRD. Currently only $10 is directed to GA DNR WRD. GA TU supports HB 730.
In 2010, the fees for specialty license plates were increased sharply in response to the budget crisis. Revenues were directed into the general fund with only $10.00 per plate marked for fisheries and wildlife conservation. HB 730 lowers the cost to you while doubling the money assigned straight into fish and wildlife programs - $19 of the first year fee and $20 of the renewal fee.
The public responded to sharply increased fees for non-game, bobwhite quail, and trout license plates and the revenues primarily going to the general fund by no longer buying or renewing the license plates. Prior to the 2010 law change, there were 541,000 wildlife license plates on vehicles on Georgia’s highways. That number has dropped below 150,000. With HB 730, the $35 license plate manufacturing fee would be waived and the tag fee reduced from $35 to $25.
The Wildlife Resources Division’s Non-Game Program does not receive support through the general fund. This unique state government program uses fund raisers, donations, grants, voluntary check-offs, and the sales of license plates. The trout program is self-sustaining through sales of special and additional fishing licenses, and some trout anglers provide extra support by purchasing the trout license plate. The Bobwhite Quail Initiative, sustained through the sales of license plates, is a specialty program that works with private landowners to restore quail habitat. Robust license plate revenues are the only way to put professional habitat recommendations on-the-ground.
The diversion of license plate revenues away from their intended purposes has hurt all of these programs supported by voluntary contributions. HB 730 corrects this diversion of funding and supports key fish and wildlife conservation efforts by sending more of your license plate fee to the programs that are important to you.
It’s all about the water. Cold, clean fishable water provides quality fishing but it goes well beyond recreation. It also provides for healthy communities and strong economies. Protecting, reconnecting, restoring and sustaining the coldwater fisheries that flow through our communities and lives leads to healthy communities and strong economies. Trout exist only in cold, clean fishable water. They are a proverbial “canary in the coal mine”, indicating how well our rivers and streams are being maintained.
Kevin F. McGrath
Advocacy Chairman, Georgia Council of Trout Unlimited