9 Bills for Sportsmen to Watch this Fall

Congress officially returned from its summer recess on Sept. 9 with the Capitol consumed by the unfolding Syrian crisis, setting aside—for the moment—a long list of legislative issues slated to be debated this fall.

Included in the mix of proposed new laws and resolutions are nine pending bills of interest to sportsmen, including legislation to protect traditional lead ammunition and fishing tackle, encourage the use of more Pittman-Robertson funds for shooting ranges, and promote hunting, recreational fishing and shooting federal public lands. Below is a roundup of these bills, including status updates and links.

H.R.1900, the Natural Gas Pipeline Permitting Reform Act: Introduced on May 9 by Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kansas) with 20 co-sponsors

The proposal seeks to amend the Natural Gas Act by directing the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to approve or deny permit requests within 12 months after providing public notice of the permit application for a natural gas pipeline project. The proposed bill requires the responsible federal agency to approve or deny any proposed pipeline project within 90 days after FERC issues its final environmental document regarding the project. A 30-day extension can be requested.

STATUS: The bill was unanimously approved by the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power in July. No date has been set for a vote on the House floor.

H.R.322, the Hunting, Fishing, and Recreational Shooting Protection Act: Introduced by Reps. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) and Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) with 94 co-sponsors on Jan. 18

The proposed bill would prevent the EPA from restricting the use of traditional ammunition with lead components and lead fishing tackle.

STATUS: The bill has been referred to the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has referred it to its Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy, where it remains.

H.R. 2046, the Recreational Lands Self-Defense Act of 2013: Introduced by Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio) and four co-sponsors on May 17

The bill would prohibit the Secretary of the Army from prohibiting an individual from legally possessing a firearm at a water resources development project on lands managed by the Army Corps of Engineers if: (1) the individual is not otherwise prohibited by law from possessing the firearm, and (2) the possession of the firearm is in compliance with the law of the state in which the project is located.

STATUS: The bill has been referred to the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has referred it to its Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment, where it remains.

H.R. 1206, the Permanent Electronic Duck Stamp Act of 2013: Introduced by Rep. Robert Wittman and one co-sponsor on March 14, the bill was unanimously approved the House on June 3

The bill grants the Secretary of the Interior permanent authority to authorize any state to issue electronic duck stamps, and requires that electronic stamp revenue and customer information collected by each state to be transmitted in accordance with privacy safeguards.

STATUS: Final passage awaits with the pending introduction of a Senate version of the House bill.

H.R. 1818, the Polar Bear Conservation and Fairness Act: Introduced by Rep Don Young (R-Alaska) and three cosponsors on April 26

The bill seeks to amend the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 to allow importation of polar bear trophies taken in hunts in Canada before the date the polar bear was determined to be a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act of 1973. This legislation allows for the re-importation of legally harvested polar bears from approved populations in Canada before the 2008 ban.

STATUS: On July 31, the House Natural Resources Committee unanimously approved the bill. It awaits introduction in the House and Senate.

HR 2463, the Target Practice and Marksmanship Training Support Act: Introduced by Rep. Duncan Hunter and 18 cosponsors on June 20

The proposed bill seeks to amend the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act to: (1) authorize a state to pay up to 90 percent of the costs of acquiring land for, expanding, or constructing a public target range; (2) authorize a state to elect to allocate 10 percent of a specified amount apportioned to it from the federal aid to wildlife restoration fund for such costs; (3) limit the federal share of such costs under such Act to 90 percent; and (4) require amounts provided for such costs under such Act to remain available for expenditure and obligation for five fiscal years.

STATUS: The bill has been approved by the House Natural Resources Committee and the House Judiciary Committee and awaits formal presentation in the House. The Senate version -- S. 1212 -- is in a similar juncture in the legislative process.

H.R.1825, the Recreational Fishing and Hunting Heritage and Opportunities Act: Introduced by Rep. Dan Benishek (R-Mich.) and 107 co-sponsors on May 3

The proposed bill would require federal public land management officials to facilitate the use of, and access to, federal public lands, including national monuments, wilderness areas, wilderness study areas, for fishing, sport hunting, and recreational shooting, except as limited by: (1) statutory authority that authorizes or withholds action for reasons of national security, public safety, or resource conservation; (2) any other federal statute that specifically precludes recreational fishing, hunting, or shooting on specific federal public lands or waters; and (3) discretionary limitations on recreational fishing, hunting, and shooting determined to be necessary and reasonable.

STATUS: The House Agriculture Committee and House Natural Resource Committee both endorsed the bill in June. The bill, along with a similar Senate version, awaits formal presentation for a vote.

H.R. 2799, the SHARE Act: Introduced by Rep. Robert Latta (R-Ohio) and seven co-sponsors on July 23

The proposed bill establishes a permanent Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council Advisory Committee to advise the Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture on wildlife and habitat conservation, hunting, recreational shooting, and for other purposes. The committee's existing iteration had to be reauthorized every two years.

STATUS: The proposed bill has been referred to the House Agriculture and House Natural Resource committees, where it remains.

H.R.2798, the Public Lands Filming Act of 2013: Introduced by Rep. Robert Latta (R-Ohio) and two co-sponsors on June 23

The proposed bill seeks to direct the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Agriculture to require annual permits and assess annual fees for commercial filming activities on Federal land for film crews of five persons or fewer.

STATUS: The bill has been referred to the House Agriculture Committee and the House Natural Resources Committee, where it remains.