By Marc Kovac
Ohio military men and women could bypass fees for hunting and fishing licenses under separate bills being considered in the Ohio House.
HB 47, offered by Rep. Zack Milkovich of Akron, D-35th, would waive license fees for veterans who were honorably discharged from service. Existing law provides such exemptions for certain honorably discharged service members, but not all.
“Ohio owes a great debt to its veterans, and providing this benefit is one way our state can show its gratitude for their service,” Milkovich said.
HB 65, meanwhile, would allow members of the military on active duty who are on leave to hunt deer or wild turkeys without purchasing a permit from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
Such individuals already can fish, hunt and trap fur-bearing animals without a license, but they are required to buy deer or turkey permits.
“If active-duty military members on leave or furlough choose to hunt fur-bearing animals [the list includes badgers, fox, skunks and raccoons] current law allows them to do so without obtaining from ODNR a hunting license and fur-taker permit,” said Rep. Doug Green of Mount Orab, R-66th. “With the passage of HB 65, the same individuals would simply be able to hunt deer or wild turkey ... without obtaining the requisite permit from ODNR.”
Both bills had their first hearing before the House’s Agriculture Committee on Tuesday.
The proposed law changes do come with a price tag, however. A fiscal analysis of Milkovich’s bill by the Ohio Legislative Service Commission notes the potential for $3.5 million in lost license and permit fees.
“I am aware that the Division of Wildlife is expected to bring in a record $11.3 million due to the increase of gun and ammunition sales in the state,” Milkovich said. “Perhaps this is an area we can consider as a funding source for this project.”