Wildlife bills move out of committee

Published 9:09 am Thursday, February 8, 2024

BROOKHAVEN — A pair of wildlife bills have moved out of the Mississippi House Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks committee into do pass Wednesday. The bills will be up for a vote in the house and if passed would be sent to the senate. 

House Bill 300 would allow the MDWFP to be reimbursed for any lost revenue after the issuance of discounts. MDWFP would need to maintain accounting for such lost revenue and submit the accounting to the Department of Finance and Administration. 

Mississippi’s Department of Finance and Administration would then have to transfer money equal to the lost revenue from the state general fund to the MDWFP on or before June 30 of each fiscal year. MDWFP’s fiscal year runs from July 1 to June 30. The accounting would be subject to audit by the State Auditor’s office. 

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Nearly 90 percent of MDWFP’s budget is funded by license sales. Money raised through hunting and fishing licenses go towards conservation projects, habitat management and public hunting opportunities. The Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks Committee reported the bill was sufficient do pass. 

Committee Chairman Bill Kinkade’s legislation HB 43 would amend Mississippi code of 1972 to state that “the wildlife in Mississippi belongs to the citizens of the state at large and to provide that the state has a duty to protect and sustain its wildlife for the public’s benefit as well as the duty and authority to defend the public’s interest in the state’s wildlife in accordance with sound scientific principles and for related purposes.”

Kinkade had similar legislation die in committee last year. Due to the election year the legislation did not get pushed through but he promised to bring similar legislation forward again in 2024 and did so in January.

“We are going to make sure the wildlife is protected in this state. It is a public property and we want to keep it as a public entity,” Kinkade said in The Daily Leader in February 2023. 

This legislation would add wildlife to a list of things the state should promote. Currently, Mississippi code states “It is, and shall be, the public policy of this state to promote hunting, trapping and fishing and other outdoor recreational opportunities and to preserve these activities for all generations to come.”

The committee reported the bill was sufficient do pass.

Both bills were added to the voting calendar for Thursday. Mississippi’s House of Representatives will convene at 2 p.m. Check back for more updates on Mississippi’s 2024 Legislative Session.