Act now if you want this bill S-1122 to come out of committee Contact each of the Committee members today !!!!!! Thursday is coming up fast. Lett the whole Senate vote on it!!!
Environment and Energy (Group3)
Smith, Bob - Chair View Votes
Gordon, Robert M. - Vice-Chair View Votes
Bateman, Christopher View Votes
Beach, James View Votes
Beck, Jennifer View Votes
This is from the RFA email
NJ ANGLERS GET REGISTRY BILL ON COMMITTEE AGENDA
RFA-NJ Expected to Testify At December 6th Hearing in Trenton
The Asbury Park Press today reported that Sen. Robert Smith (D-Piscataway), chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Energy, has said the New Jersey saltwater registry bill sponsored by Senator Jeff Van Drew (D-Cape May) and Senator Jennifer Beck (R-Red Bank) will be up for vote on Thursday, December 9th at 10 a.m.
Senate Bill 1122 would require the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to maintain a free annual angler registry program to meet the new federal mandate for data collection at the federal level, and would allow New Jersey to apply for an exempted state designation from the federal registration requirements.
Earlier this week, it was learned that the federal government would no longer be offering a free angler registry program at the federal level when NOAA Fisheries announced a new $15 federal fee will be required of all anglers fishing in New Jersey coastal waters starting January 1. To avoid this surcharge, an Assembly Version (A823) of the no cost registration program was passed by a 54-16 vote in March, following unanimous passage from the Assembly environment committee. A823 was sponsored by New Jersey Assembly representatives Nelson Albano (D-Cape May), Matt Milam (D-Cape May), John Amodeo (R-Northfield), Celeste Riley (D-Bridgeton), Paul Moriarty (D-Turnersville), Scott T. Rumana (R-Wayne) and Gilbert Wilson (D-Audubon).
The Senate version needs to clear from committee on Thursday before it can be taken up for a full Senate vote in advance of the looming federal deadline. Initially referred to the Senate Environment Committee last February, Sen. Smith told the Press that he'd been awaiting feedback from the DEP Commissioner and the Governor's office on S1122, saying he was reluctant to move the bill if it didn't have a chance of passing. "I haven't received an answer, but it's time to move forward," Sen. Smith said.
For the coastal angling community, getting the bill to committee was a big hurdle to clear. "This shows that our recreational anglers can move mountains when it's time to act," said Jim Donofrio, Executive Director of the Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA). "We're thankful to those legislators, who helped push the saltwater registry legislation through the political process, but it's those fishermen and business owners who took time to call their senators, write letters and send emails which are the ones who deserve much of credit for clearing a huge legislative obstacle, and the RFA thanks you."
Donofrio said representatives of the RFA-NJ chapter will be on-hand for Thursday's Senate Environment Committee hearing in Committee Room 10 on the 3rd Floor of the State House Annex in Trenton, but warned the angling community that there is opposition to the bill. "We know the Director of the Division of Fish and Wildlife, Dave Chanda, is very much opposed to this bill and would like to see it remain stuck in committee," he said. According to Donofrio, Chanda is opposed to any registration program for which doesn't have a fee attached for anglers to pay.
"There are a handful of individuals who are pushing to have a user fee attached to this registry, but that's simply not an option at this late stage," Donofrio said, adding "it's not up to taxpayers to define how programs will get paid and how much we'll have be charged, that's for legislators to decide, and these legislators who've sponsored S1122 and A823 believe there's already funding available to get this registry program in place."
In a commentary published in both the Asbury Park Press and the Atlantic City Press this week, Jim Hutchinson, Jr., Managing Director of the RFA said that saltwater anglers already contribute over $100 million in state and federal taxes through the sale of more than $640 million in annual saltwater tackle sales. Hutchinson said that based on those U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates, coupled with data showing that there are between 245,000 and 496,000 saltwater anglers who need to be registered to fish in the state of New Jersey, the cost to the state has already been covered by fishermen.
"There are only two options on the table right now, either get S1122 passed to establish a New Jersey saltwater registry in time to meet the federal requirement, or do nothing and let the federal government jam us with a $15 saltwater user fee," Hutchinson said. "We've already heard from the fishermen who get it, and apparently so have the legislators." According to Hutchinson, legislative offices were inundated with thousands of emails, letters and phone calls this week, which is the type of political action required to get the democratic process moving.
"There are a half a dozen fence-sitters out there who are asking if they can write out checks to the state of New Jersey in order to fish the coastal waters come 2011, but in terms of the legislation that needs to get passed in time to avoid a federal fee, there's only one option, and that's Senate Bill 1122 sponsored by Senators Beck and Van Drew," Donofrio said, while adding "there are literally hundreds of thousands of saltwater anglers from Pennsylvania and New Jersey who are hoping that S1122 is cleared from committee on December 9th and put to a full senate vote soon after," he added.