"Bayou Bill" Scifres
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Department of Stark Reality: Legislative & Outdoor Update
Copyright © 2003 by Bill Scifres

Dead are all of the bills that would have paved the way (financially) for the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to establish a point-of-sale computerized license program.
Quite ill--perhaps terminally--is the concept. But there still is the slightest little heartbeat blip showing on the monitor of the patient as conference committees wind up the legislative process for the current, dying session.
As you know, House Bill (HB) 1656 made its way through two committees and floor action in the originating house. It would have given the DNR authority to use roughly $5 million of a fund (roughly $20 million) that is derived from the sale of lifetime hunting/fishing licenses.
For the record, the Division of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) is authorized to use roughly two percent per year of this fund.
The rub comes from the fact that the DFW wants to use roughly $5 million of this fund in a one-shot deal that would help establish a point-of-sale computerized program. Said computerized license-sale program would (at the touch of a computer button) offer many plus features for the fish/wildlife agency and outdoorsmen of the state, many of whom purchased that $20 million worth of lifetime licenses. 
Frankly I do not consider this modern-day cyber setup as a member of my inner circle of friends. But computers beat the Golden Rod tablet and a well-sharpened lead pencil from here to eternity. Computers are a way of life.
So much for my editorializing and on with the story.
After passing the House of Representatives, HB 1656 was assigned and passed the Senate Natural Resources Committee. From there it went to the Senate Finance Committee, but was not "heard." This, in effect, killed the last hope of  the bill. But did it?
Officials of the DNR and its satellite (DFW) are not climbing up on stumps, soap boxes and other elevated projections to state their case and hopes, but I hear there is a move in the works to have provisions of HB 1656 inserted into HB 1552, a generalized DNR "house-cleaning" measure which must be acted upon this week by a conference committee of legislators from both houses.
This could pull the point-of-sale chestnuts out of the fire. The concept certainly is germane to the bill in question. Before this can happen, we are told, such a move would have to gain the nod of Sen. Lawrence "Larry" Borst, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.
For some time now it has been possible to purchase hunting/fishing licenses online (with a computer). Last year some 11,000 licenses were purchased via the Access Indiana program which is not connected to state government.
Purchase of a license costs a little more than the price of the license, and I am told the fee goes up as the price of the license rises. But it is a good service. It can be accessed by going to www.wildlife.IN.gov.
Should the DNR be successful in getting the point-of-sale concept through the legislature, the Access Indiana service will be continued, a DFW spokesman says.

The Outdoor Smorgasbord 

Streams and rivers and the larger lakes and reservoirs of the state are at, or near, spring normal levels and clear, but the best fishing will be found in farm ponds, small watershed lakes and other small standing waters because smaller, shallow water warms more quickly.
We are not yet getting vibes on bluegills acting "nesty" but the recent cold snap can be blamed for that . . .
The mushroom picture hasn't changed much in the past week (cool weather can be blamed for that, too). Continued warm, sunny days could change that before the weekend . . . However, although redbud has exploded in the southern third of the state, other wildflower indicators are well behind in central parts of the state and delayed even farther in the north.
The spring morel season could be the latest of many years past because of the slow arrival of spring.

All columns are copyrighted by Bill Scifres and may not be reproduced in any form without prior permission from the author.  For reproduction permission and media usage fees, contact: Bill Scifres, 6420 East 116th Street, Fishers, IN 46038, E-mail: billscifres@aol.com

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