Bill Would Offer Free Permits

ST. MARYS — A recently proposed bill in the Ohio House could give some senior citizens free hunting and fishing licenses.

Ohio Rep. Nick Barborak, of the 5th House District, introduced House Bill 25 — a measure that seeks to provide free fishing and hunting licenses along with fur taker, deer and wild turkey permits and wetlands habitat stamps to Ohioans 65 and older. Barborak, a Democrat from Lisbon, said the idea has been floating around Columbus for years.

“In talking with different constituents, I thought it would be a good idea,” Barborak said, noting there is a companion bill in the Senate. “Obviously it’s early in the process, but I thought it would be a good idea to give something back to the seniors who have contributed to the state for many years. Right now, there is already a reduced program for seniors and an exemption for the fee for people born in 1937 and earlier. This would kind of make it uniform.”

By giving free permits, Barborak said he hopes more seniors partake in hunting and fishing. That, he noted, could lead to more young people taking up the activities.

“Hopefully it would encourage younger people to come out with them,” Barborak said.

“We hope to encourage those kinds of activities and relationships and think its a worthwhile activity.”

The bill also could introduce a new generation to outdoor activities.

“I know that there aren’t as many young people doing it,” Barborak said.

“The older generation tends to be more active in the hunting and fishing community than the younger people. This may be a way to spark interest in the younger generation and that could be beneficial across the board.”

The bill has been sent to the agriculture and natural resources committee. While a hearing has yet to be scheduled, Barborak said he has held discussions with various officials to gauge their thoughts on the proposal.

“Obviously there are concerns about of what it would mean to revenue for the agency,” Barborak said of issuing the free permits.

“We are anxious to see the fiscal analysis and what kind of impact it would have. It was our understanding early it was going to be fairly minimal, but we’ll look at those things because no one wants to wreck havoc to the Division of Wildlife and DNR. If that’s something that needs to be addressed we will address that.”