As state lawmakers work through crossover week to meet the deadline that requires all legislation to clear the House or Senate by Friday to remain eligible for consideration this legislative session, a variety of bills related to outdoors topics are under consideration.
Below are updates on several bills as of early Wednesday. The complete texts can be read on the N.C. General Assembly website at www.ncleg.net.
To provide feedback to your representatives, find the contact information with each bill on the website or use the homepage search function.
• The Increase Funding for Dredging bill (Senate Bill 58), which would raise registration fees for boats statewide to pay for dredging coastal inlets, passed third reading in the Senate by a vote of 38-11 with one not voting. Now, the bill is in the House, where it passed first reading and was referred to the Committee on Commerce and Job Development on May 8.
• The Fisheries Economic Development Act (House Bill 983), with sponsors including Rep. Tom Murry of Wake County, remained in committee after being referred to the Committee on Commerce and Job Development on April 18.
The bill would give coastal gamefish designation to red drum, spotted sea trout and striped bass, meaning they could be taken only with rod and reel and could not be sold; compensate commercial fishermen for related losses; increase coastal recreational fishing license fees; appropriate funds to support the Marine Fisheries Observer Program; and provide funding for dredging shallow draft channels. A second section of the bill would appropriate $1.3 million from the General Fund to pay for the Marine Fisheries Observer Program. A third portion of the bill would establish a new fund for dredging coastal shallow water inlets and would provide one-half of 1 percent of the gasoline tax.
• Hunting & Fishing/Active Duty Military (Senate Bill 25) has passed third reading. The bill would allow active duty military to be considered state residents for purchase of a variety of hunting, fishing, trapping and special-activity licenses.
• Increase Wildlife Resources License Fees (House Bill 954), which would increase many hunting, fishing and trapping fees, remained in the Agriculture Committee.
Boat safely: Saturday brings the start of National Safe Boating Week, and the May 18-24 observance leads up to the Memorial Day weekend kickoff of the boating season.
North Carolina will start its multiple-agency On the Road, On the Water, Don't Drink and Drive campaign over the holiday weekend to reduce accidents on roadways and waterways.
Learn more at www.ncwildlife.org/boating, or call 919-707-0031.
N.C. town in finals: Cape Hatteras led the voting as of early Wednesday in the World Fishing Networks Ultimate Fishing Town contest. Point Breeze On Lake Ontario, N.Y., was close behind. Voting ends May 24 at www.ultimatefishingtown.com.
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