HOUSE TRANSPORTATION & INFRASTRUCTURE COMMITTEE APPROVES HIGHWAY BILL, PROVIDES REAUTHORIZATION FOR SFRBTF
On October 22, the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee unanimously passed H.R.3763, the Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Act of 2015 which includes a complete reauthorization of the Sportfish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund (SFRBTF) through 2021. NMMA has been working towards this approval with our Angling & Boating Alliance (ABA) partners for nearly three years, including a number of policy changes that would benefit boating and fishing communities while keeping the SFRBTF the world’s premier aquatic conservation and access funding mechanism. Among other administrative changes, a few highlights of the bill include:
- New language regarding the $1.2 million that funds the Sport Fish and Boating Partnership Council and the four fisheries commissions but with no substantive policy or funding change from present law.
- Provisions regarding the distribution of funds to Boating Infrastructure Grants (BIG) and Clean Vessel Act (CVA) grants in an effort to find administrative fund efficiencies and to provide states with more flexibility in how they use these funds.
- Alters the $3 million Multi-State Conservation Grant Program from an off-the-top deduction and includes it in the SFR distribution.
Many of the policy changes in the bill represent the collective boating and fishin industry desire to protect a robust and fully functioning SFRBTF; one that provides an enhanced, enjoyable, and safe boating and fishing experience for all anglers and boaters. However, this latest House committee approval is merely one step along the continuum toward a full reauthorization. NMMA and ABA continue to meet and work with House and Senate staff to refine legislative policy changes as this process continues and we will keep members apprised with future updates.