HB 523-FN – AS INTRODUCED
HOUSE BILL 523-FN
This bill makes various changes to the powers, duties, rulemaking, enforcement, and jurisdiction of the fish and game department and the fish and game laws.
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Explanation: Matter added to current law appears in bold italics.
Matter removed from current law appears [
in brackets and struckthrough.]
Matter which is either (a) all new or (b) repealed and reenacted appears in regular type.
STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE
In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Eleven
AN ACT making various changes to the fish and game laws.
Be it Enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court convened:
1 Fish and Game; Executive Director; Powers and Duties. Amend RSA 206:10, I to read as follows:
I. It shall be the duty of the executive director to function as the chief administrator of the commission and to protect, propagate and preserve the non-agricultural fish, game, and wildlife resources of the state and to protect and conserve non-game birds of the state. The executive director shall, subject to the limitations hereinafter set forth, have the power and authority to adopt and enforce rules, pursuant to RSA 541-A, [
for the adequate and effective control, management, restoration, conservation, and regulation of the fish, game, bird and wildlife resources of the state, including rules] designed to prohibit or otherwise regulate non-agricultural activities which may cause the introduction or spread of infectious disease in the state’s wildlife resources. Such power and authority shall include the right to open and close the season for taking fish, game, birds, and wildlife, and the right to fix the size, number and weight limits[ , and other conditions governing the method and manner] of taking the same. Such power and authority may be exercised with reference to the state as a whole, or for any specified county or part thereof, or for any lake, pond, stream, or part thereof.
2 Penalty for Rules Violations. Amend RSA 206:19 to read as follows:
206:19 Penalty for Violation of Rules and Regulations. Whoever violates any rule, regulation, or order of the executive director issued pursuant to the authority contained in the preceding sections of this subdivision, for which violation no specific penalty is provided, shall be guilty of a [
3 Conservation Officers; Powers. Amend RSA 206:26 to read as follows:
206:26 Powers. The executive director, if certified as a police officer in accordance with RSA 188-F:26, IV, and each conservation officer, shall have the power:
I. To enforce all laws, rules, and regulations relating to all non-agricultural wildlife[
, and to go upon any property outside of buildings, posted or otherwise, in the performance of their duties];
II. To execute all warrants and search warrants for the violation of laws, rules, and regulations relating to all non-agricultural wildlife;
III. To serve subpoenas issued for the trial of all offenses against the laws, rules, and regulations relating to all non-agricultural wildlife;
IV. To carry firearms or other weapons, concealed or otherwise, in the performance of their duties;
V. To arrest without warrant and on view any person found violating any law[
, rule or regulation] relating to all wildlife, take such person before a court having jurisdiction for trial, and detain such person in custody at the expense of the state until trial;
VI. To stop and to search without a warrant and to examine in the field, in the highway, at an airbase or on the stream, any person, or any boat, conveyance, aircraft, vehicle, gamebag, game coat, creel, crate, box, locker or other receptacle, in the presence of the owner if reasonably possible, or any so-called fish house or bob-house, in the presence of the occupant, for all wildlife, when there is [
reasonable] probable cause to believe that any wildlife, or any illegal apparatus subject to forfeiture, is concealed thereon or therein;
VII. To secure and execute search warrants, and in pursuance thereof, to enter any building, enclosure, vehicle, or car, and to break open any apartment, chest, locker, box, trunk, crate, basket, bag, package, or container, and to examine the contents thereof;
VIII. To seize and take possession of all wildlife, which has been caught, taken, or killed, or had in possession, or under control, or which has been shipped or is about to be shipped, at any time, in any manner, or for any purpose, contrary to the laws of this state and to dispose of all wildlife which has been confiscated, seized, or picked up for any reason, in a manner prescribed by [
the executive director] law;
IX. To seize all fishing tackle, guns, shooting and hunting paraphernalia, hunting or fishing licenses, traps, boats, decoys, or other appliances used in violation of any law or rule relating to all wildlife when making an arrest, or found in the execution of a search warrant, and hold the same at the [
owner’s] state’s expense until the fine and costs imposed for the violation have been paid in full;
X. To caution persons of the danger from fires in the forests and to extinguish a fire left burning, to give notice to the forest fire warden and interested parties of fires threatening to extend beyond control, and assume all lawful powers of a fire warden pending the fire warden’s arrival;
XI. To enforce the laws relating to snowmobiles, all terrain vehicles, trespass on posted lands, motor vehicles blocking private ways, vandalism and malicious damage to property and livestock, [
use and transportation of firearms for hunting,] bob houses, boats, dogs at large, breaking and entering and larceny in remote areas, protection of the environment, littering, and dumping;
XII. To conduct search and rescue operations in woodlands and inland waters and to provide security at the sites thereof, and to enforce recovery of expenses under RSA 206:26-bb;
XIII. In emergencies upon their requests, to cooperate with other law enforcement agencies;
XIV. To have and exercise the powers and privileges granted by RSA 594 as to matters within their jurisdiction under this section.
4 Use of Firearms, Bow, or Crossbow in or Across Highway. Amend RSA 207:3-c, I to read as follows:
I. No person shall discharge a firearm, bow and arrow, or crossbow and bolt [
from within 15 feet of the traveled portion of or] across any class I through V highway of the state. This section shall not apply to those persons holding a special permit pursuant to RSA 207:7-a.
5 Permission for Baiting. Amend RSA 207:3-d, II to read as follows:
II. No person shall engage in the act of baiting on the property of another unless he or she has secured permission from the owner or occupant of the property upon which the bait is to be deposited [
a permit in writing, signed by the owner or occupant, and until he has filed a copy of the permit with the conservation officer in whose district the person plans to bait, together with a topographic map or copy thereof showing the specific location of the bait site].
6 Hunting from a Vehicle. Amend RSA 207:7 to read as follows:
207:7 Hunting From Motor Vehicle, OHRV, Snowmobile, Boat, or Aircraft.
I. No person shall take or attempt to take wild birds or wild animals from a motor vehicle, OHRV, snowmobile as defined in RSA 215-C:1, boat, aircraft, or other craft propelled by mechanical power.
No person shall have or carry, in or on a motor vehicle, OHRV, snowmobile, or aircraft, whether moving or stationary, a cocked crossbow, a loaded rifle or loaded shotgun, or a rifle or shotgun with a cartridge in a magazine or clip attached to the gun. III. No person shall have in or on a boat or other craft while being propelled by mechanical power, or in a boat or other craft being towed by a boat or other craft propelled by mechanical power, a cocked crossbow, a loaded rifle or loaded shotgun, or a rifle or shotgun with a cartridge in a magazine or clip attached to the gun. IV.] The provisions of this section shall not apply to law enforcement officers carrying guns in the line of duty.
7 Prohibited Devices. Amend RSA 207:10 to read as follows:
207:10 Prohibited Devices. A trotline, tips-ups, set and trap lines, crossbows, spears, grappling hooks, naked hooks, snatch hooks, eel wires, eel pots, and nets, shall not be used in any fresh waters of the state to take fish, unless otherwise specifically permitted. No person shall possess, while hunting or trapping any wild bird, or wild animal, including bear, any snare, [
jack or artificial light,] swivel, pivot, or set gun, except as otherwise permitted. [ Any person convicted of illegal night hunting shall forfeit such firearms, jacks or other equipment used or usable in the illegal night hunting at the time of the violation. Prohibited articles, upon conviction of a violation of illegal night hunting, shall become the property of the fish and game department, and shall be sold at auction by the executive director within one year of the forfeiture. Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit the use of lights for checking traps as permitted in RSA 210:13.]
8 Wildlife Damage Control; Rights Reserved. Amend RSA 207:30 to read as follows:
207:30 Rights Reserved. Persons have the right to protect themselves and their property from injury or destruction by wild birds, game, or fur-bearing animals, protected by the laws of this state. The provisions of this [
subdivision] title shall not impair the [ constitutional rights] ability of persons to protect themselves or their property from injury or destruction by wild birds, game, or fur-bearing animals, protected by the laws of this state.
207:56 Authority to Set Seasons, Bag Limits[
, Methods and Manner of Taking]; Small Game Animals and Game Birds.
I. The executive director, after consultation with the commission, shall have the authority to open and close the seasons for the taking of small game and game birds as defined in RSA 207:1, XXVI and XI, except those birds protected under RSA 209:4, to fix the number and sex limitations for small game[
, and any other conditions governing the methods and manner of taking and reporting the same], subject to any restrictions imposed by statute.
10 Harassment; Rulemaking Deleted; Penalty Increased RSA 207:57, III and IV to read as follows:
The executive director shall adopt rules, pursuant to RSA 541-A, to administer this section and to establish designated hunting areas on public lands, if he finds that a significant interference with or disruption of a hunt is likely to occur on those lands. IV.] Any person violating the provisions of this section shall be guilty of a [ violation] misdemeanor.
11 Taking Deer; Pistols Permitted. Amend RSA 208:3-d to read as follows:
208:3-d Pistols Permitted. Pistols permitted under RSA 208:3, 3-a, 3-b, and 3-c shall include [
a .357 Magnum, 10mm Automatic, .41 Remington, .44 Magnum, .45 Long Colt, .480 Ruger, and .50 Magnum,] any caliber producing over 450 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle, provided that a pistol used for taking deer under this section shall be loaded with no more than 5 rounds of ammunition at any time.
12 Illegal Night Hunting. Amend RSA 208:8 to read as follows:
208:8 Illegal Night Hunting.
I.] A person is guilty of a misdemeanor if the person[ : (a)] knowingly takes wild birds or wild animals between 1/2 hour after sunset and 1/2 hour before sunrise.
(b) Knowingly uses an artificial light between 1/2 hour after sunset and 1/2 hour before sunrise to illuminate, locate, or attempt to locate wild birds or wild animals while possessing on the person or in a motor vehicle, OHRV, snowmobile, boat, aircraft, or other craft propelled by mechanical power, a bow and arrow, crossbow and bolt, rifle, pistol, revolver, shotgun, or muzzle-loading firearm with live ammunition to fit the weapon, whether loaded or unloaded. II. Any person convicted of illegal night hunting shall forfeit such firearms, lights, or any other equipment used or usable in the illegal night hunting at the time of such offense. III. The knowledge or belief required for paragraph I is presumed in the case of a person who: (a) Uses or is found in the possession of a bow and arrow, crossbow and bolt, a muzzle-loading firearm with live ammunition components to fit, or a rifle, revolver, or pistol larger than .22 caliber long rifle; or (b) Uses shotgun shells carrying shot larger than number 4 birdshot. IV. Nothing contained in this section shall be construed to prohibit the use of lights for checking traps as permitted in RSA 210:13.]
13 Deer Registration Stations. Amend RSA 208:15-a to read as follows:
208:15-a Deer Registration Stations. The executive director shall cause to be established [
such number of] deer registration stations [ as the executive director may deem necessary] for the purpose of registering deer killed in the state. Each such station shall be in charge of an agent [ designated by the executive director]. Once each year a list of such agents and the location of registration stations shall be published in one or more newspapers in the state.
14 Deer Registration; Presentation. Amend RSA 208:15-d to read as follows:
208:15-d Presentation for Registration. Any person killing a deer shall present the same for registration [
at the first open deer registration station on the route taken by the person who killed the deer. No person shall present for registration, or allow to be registered in such person’s name, a deer which such person did not kill].
15 Game Animals; Penalties; References Deleted. Amend RSA 208:21 to read as follows:
208:21 Penalties. A person who violates:
I. RSA [
208:1, 1-b] 208:1-b, 1-d, 7, I and II, and 8 shall be guilty of a misdemeanor if a natural person, or guilty of a felony if any other person.
II. RSA 208:3, 3-a, 3-b, 3-c, 4, 5, 5-a, 6-a, 7, III, 10, and 12-16 inclusive, shall be guilty of a violation if a natural person, or guilty of a misdemeanor if any other person.
RSA 208:11 shall be guilty of a misdemeanor for each deer or moose or part thereof bought, sold, offered or exposed for sale if a natural person or guilty of a felony if any other person. V.] RSA 208:1-a or RSA 208:2 shall be guilty of a violation, unless the person is guilty of taking deer or moose during the closed season or exceeding the bag limit, then the person shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.
16 Wild Black Bear; Method and Manner of Taking; Islands. Amend RSA 208:22, I and II to read as follows:
I. The executive director, with the consent of the commission, shall adopt rules, pursuant to RSA 541-A, relative to opening and closing the seasons for the taking of wild black bear, and fixing the number of wild black bear that may be taken [
and any other conditions governing the methods and manner of taking and reporting of the same]. The authority of the executive director as granted by this section may be exercised with reference to the state as a whole or for any specified county or part of a county. Dog training shall be permitted in accordance with RSA 207:12-a.
II. No bear shall be taken at any time on any [
island or in any] waters, lakes, or ponds. Wild black bear may be taken on any island.
17 Black Bear Management Program; Use of Tags. Amend RSA 208:24, III to read as follows:
III. The bear license and tag shall be in such form as determined by the executive director in rules adopted under RSA 541-A. The holder of a bear license and tag shall, upon killing a bear, fill out and securely attach to the bear’s ear the bear tag bearing the name and address of the licensee and other information that the executive director determines to be appropriate. The bear tag shall remain attached to the bear as long as the bear carcass remains in the state. [
Only the bear tag issued to the licensee who killed the bear shall be attached to that bear. No person shall possess a bear tag that was not issued to that person. No person shall attach a bear tag to a bear the person did not kill.]
18 Visiting Traps. Amend RSA 210:13 to read as follows:
210:13 Visiting Traps. Notwithstanding any other law to the contrary, a person shall visit his traps at least once in each calendar day, provided, however, that a person trapping for beaver through the ice during the open season therefor, shall visit his traps once in each 72 hours. Trappers shall be permitted to use artificial lights during the hours of darkness to facilitate the checking of traps under this section[
, subject to the following restrictions: no person shall check traps at night by the use of a rifle, revolver, or pistol larger than a .22 caliber long rifle or by use of shotgun shells carrying shot larger than number 4 birdshot; and checking traps by the use of lights from a motor vehicle shall be prohibited]. Only a person whose name is either stamped or engraved on the traps or on a durable tag securely affixed to the traps shall have the authority to tend the traps. In case of an emergency, the owner of the traps may grant written permission to another duly licensed trapper to tend the traps.
19 Hunting Licenses; Refusal; Appeal. Amend RSA 214:17 to read as follows:
214:17 Refusing Licenses; Appeal. The executive director and his or her agents shall refuse to issue any license to hunt if [
it appears that] the applicant is [ not a suitable person to carry firearms] prohibited under federal or state law from possessing a firearm. Any person who has been refused a license by an agent shall have the right of appeal to the executive director, whose decision, given after hearing, shall be final. Any attempt to secure a license from another agency, after having been refused by an agency and before appealing to the executive director, and any attempt to secure a license from any source in the same year that the executive director, on appeal, has decided that the applicant is [ not a suitable person to carry firearms] prohibited under federal or state law from possessing a firearm, shall be a violation of the provisions of this chapter.
20 Licenses; Suspension; Revocation. Amend RSA 214:18 to read as follows:
214:18 Suspension; Revocation. The executive director may [
order] give notice for the suspension of the license of any person in his or her discretion[ , and without hearing, and may order the license delivered to him or his representative] whenever [ he] the executive director has reason to believe that the holder thereof is physically or mentally an improper or incompetent person to carry firearms, or is handling firearms improperly, or so as to endanger human life or property, or for any other cause that [ he] the executive director may deem sufficient[ ; but such suspension shall not be for a longer period than 30 days unless the executive director and the commission, after investigation and hearing, so determine]. The executive director may order any license to be revoked after due hearing for any cause that he or she may deem sufficient.
21 Revocation or Suspension for Conviction. Amend RSA 214:19 to read as follows:
214:19 Revocation or Suspension for Conviction. The executive director may revoke or suspend the license of any person who has been found guilty in any court of [
a violation] 3 or more violations within a 2-year period of any provision of this title or any rule or regulation of the executive director, or who has been found guilty in a [ municipal or] district court of a violation of RSA 163-B or RSA 635:2. Such revocation or suspension shall not continue for more than one year from the date thereof[ , except for a conviction under RSA 208:8, in which case the revocation or suspension may be for a period not to exceed 5 years, or except for a conviction under RSA 208:1-a, in which case the revocation or suspension may be for a period not to exceed 2 years. The executive director shall revoke or suspend the license of any person who has been found guilty in any court a second time within 5 years of the first finding of guilt, of a violation of any such laws or regulations, for a period of not less than one, nor more than 3 years from the date of such finding or conviction].
22 Appeal of Conviction. Amend RSA 214:19-a to read as follows:
214:19-a Appeal of Conviction. Whenever any person convicted of a violation of any provision of this title or any rule or regulation of the executive director or of RSA 163-B, RSA 236:26, RSA 265:102, or RSA 635:2 shall appeal, his or her license shall not be suspended pending disposition of the appeal. If the person so appealing is convicted, the period of suspension shall [
be computed from the date of the original conviction] begin immediately.
23 Hunting While Intoxicated; Target Practice Deleted. Amend the introductory paragraph of RSA 214:20 to read as follows:
214:20 Hunting While Intoxicated. No person shall [
target practice,] hunt, take, or attempt to take wildlife in this state by the use of a firearm, bow and arrow, crossbow and bolt, or any other weapon:
24 Implied Consent; Target Practice Deleted. Amend RSA 214:20-d to read as follows:
214:20-d Implied Consent to Submit to Test to Determine Alcohol Concentration.
I. Any person who [
target practices,] takes[ ,] or attempts to take wildlife in this state by use of a firearm, bow and arrow, crossbow and bolt, or any other weapon, shall be deemed to have given consent to physical tests and examinations for the purpose of determining whether that person is under the influence of intoxicating liquor or any controlled drug or any combination of intoxicating liquor and controlled drug, and to chemical infrared molecular absorption or gas chromatograph test or tests of any or any combination of the following: blood, urine, or breath, for the purposes of determining the controlled drug content of the person’s blood or alcohol concentration if arrested for any offense arising out of acts alleged to have been committed while the person was [ target practicing,] hunting, taking, or attempting to take wildlife, while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or controlled drugs or any combination of alcohol or controlled drugs or while having an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more, or in the case of a person under the age of 21, 0.02 or more. The test or tests shall be administered at the direction of a law enforcement officer having reasonable grounds to believe the person to have been hunting, taking, or attempting to take wildlife while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or any controlled drug, or any combination of intoxicating liquor and controlled drug.
II. A copy of the report of any such test shall be furnished by the law enforcement agency to the person tested within 48 hours of receipt of report by certified mail directed to the address shown on such person’s hunting license or other identification furnished by the person. Results of a test of the breath shall be furnished immediately in writing to the person tested by a certified breath-testing operator conducting the test.
III. When the incident involves a hunting [
or target practice] shooting, resulting in death or serious bodily injury to any person as provided in RSA 214:20-l, the prerequisites of RSA 214:20-m shall not apply.
25 Refusal of Consent; Target Practicing Deleted. Amend RSA 214:20-e, I to read as follows:
I. That the law enforcement officer had reasonable grounds to believe the arrested person had been [
target practicing,] hunting, taking, or attempting to take wildlife while under the influence of intoxicating liquor, controlled drugs, or a combination thereof.
26 Evidence of Refusal; Target Practicing Deleted. Amend RSA 214:20-i to read as follows:
214:20-i Evidence of Refusal to Take Test for Alcohol Concentration. If a person refuses to submit to a test as provided in RSA 214:20-e, such refusal may be admissible into evidence in a civil or criminal action or proceeding arising out of an act alleged to have been committed by that person while [
target practicing,] hunting, taking, or attempting to take wildlife, with a firearm, bow and arrow, cross bow or bolt, or other weapon, while under the influence of liquor or controlled drugs or any combination of intoxicating liquor and controlled drug.
27 Arrest Without a Warrant; Target Practicing Deleted. Amend RSA 214:20-k to read as follows:
214:20-k Arrest Without a Warrant. Notwithstanding any other statutory provisions of the law to the contrary, a law enforcement officer may, without a warrant, arrest any person involved in any shooting related directly to [
target practicing,] hunting, taking, or attempting to take wildlife, when that officer has probable cause to believe that such person has violated the provisions of RSA 214:20 or 214:20-a.
28 Blood Testing; Target Practicing Deleted. Amend RSA 214:20-l to read as follows:
214:20-l Blood Testing on Certain Hunting Fatalities. When death or serious bodily injury occurs to any person in the course of a hunting related shooting [
or the result of target practice], the person or persons responsible shall be tested for blood alcohol content. A law enforcement officer shall request a licensed physician, registered nurse, certified physician’s assistant, or qualified medical technician or medical technologist to withdraw blood from each person involved, provided that the officer has probable cause to believe that the person responsible was under the influence of alcohol or a controlled drug or any combination of controlled drug or alcohol. All tests made under this section shall be conducted by the forensic science laboratory established in RSA 106-B:2-a, or in any other laboratory capable of conducting such tests which is licensed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Act of 1988 as amended. A copy of any report of any such test shall be kept on file by the medical examiner. The filed report is not a public record under RSA 91-A. However, the report shall be made available to any person, including their legal representative, who is or may be involved in a civil, criminal, or administrative action arising out of an accident in connection with which the test was performed.
29 Administrative Review; Target Practicing Deleted. Amend RSA 214:20-o to read as follows:
214:20-o Administrative Review. Upon revoking or denying a hunting license of any person pursuant to RSA 214:20-b and 214:20-e the executive director shall immediately notify the person in writing of such revocation or denial. If, within 30 days of such notification, the person so notified requests a hearing on the revocation or denial, the department shall, within 10 days of the receipt of the request, afford such person an opportunity for a hearing before the executive director or designee. The scope of such a hearing shall cover the issues of whether a law enforcement officer had reasonable grounds to believe the person had been [
target practicing,] hunting, taking, or attempting to take wildlife while under the influence of alcohol or controlled drugs or a combination of alcohol and controlled drugs; whether the person was placed under arrest; whether the person refused to submit to a physical or chemical test upon the request of the officer; whether the person was informed that the privilege to hunt would be revoked or denied if such person refused to submit to a test; and whether the person was informed of such person’s right to have a chemical test or tests made by a person of such person’s own choosing. The executive director shall order that the revocation or determination that there should be a denial of issuance be rescinded or sustained. A copy of such order shall be sent to the person affected thereby.
30 Repeal. The following are repealed:
I. RSA 206:10, IV, relative to the general power of the executive director to administer fines for fish and game violations.
II. RSA 207:3-d, I, relative to rulemaking authority concerning baiting.
III. RSA 207:4, relative to silencing devices.
IV. RSA 207:8, relative to the prohibition on taking fish and game for hire.
V. RSA 207:18, II–IV, relative to procedures for seized, confiscated, and abandoned property.
VI. RSA 207:46, II, relative to penalty of forfeiture of firearms and silencing devices.
VII. RSA 207:55, relative to restitution for illegal taking or possessing.
VIII. RSA 208:1, relative to the protection of caribou or elk.
IX. RSA 208:8-a, relative to the penalty for illegal use of light.
X. RSA 208:9, relative to the possession of deer or moose or parts thereof.
XI. RSA 208:10, relative to prohibiting possessing deer in lumber camps.
XII. RSA 208:11, relative to prohibiting the buying or selling of deer, moose, or bear, or part thereof.
XIII. RSA 208:16, II-IV, relative to limits on the use of deer tags.
XIV. RSA 214:19-b, relative to revocation of a hunting license for conviction in another state.
XV. RSA 214:19-c, relative to copies of record of convictions and notices of revocations.
XVI. RSA 214:22, relative to ineligibility for licensure for a limited period.
31 Effective Date. This act shall take effect January 1, 2012.
HB 523 FISCAL NOTE
AN ACT making various changes to the fish and game laws.
The Department of Fish and Game states this bill will reduce state fish and game fund and general fund revenue by an indeterminable amount in FY 2012 and each year thereafter. The Judicial Branch states this bill will have an indeterminable impact on state general fund expenditures in FY 2012 and each year thereafter. The Judicial Council states this bill may decrease state general fund expenditures by an indeterminable amount in FY 2012 and each year thereafter. The New Hampshire Association of Counties states this bill may reduce county expenditures by an indeterminable amount in FY 2012 and each year thereafter. There will be no fiscal impact on local expenditures, or county and local revenue.
The Department of Fish and Game states this bill makes various changes to the powers, duties, rulemaking, enforcement, and jurisdiction of the Department and the fish and game laws. The Department states the proposed legislation inhibits the Department’s ability to effectively manage, restore, or conserve fish, game birds, and wildlife resources of the state. The Department states the effects of the proposed legislation puts the wildlife populations of various species at risk and could effect populations to a degree that negatively impacts hunting and fishing opportunities throughout the state. As a consequence, the Department states this bill may significantly reduce future license sales and decrease fish and game fund revenue by an indeterminable amount in FY 2012 and each year thereafter. The Department states this bill also removes essential authorities currently granted to conservation officers allowing them to effectively enforce laws and rules of the Department and reduces penalties for violating fish and game statutes and rules. The Department states this would reduce fish and game fund revenues derived from penalties by an indeterminable amount in FY 2012 and each year thereafter. The Department also notes that according to a 2006 National survey of fishing, hunting, and wildlife associated recreation, hunting and fishing related expenditures including food, lodging and other trip related expenses totaled approximately $350,000,000. The Department states the proposed legislation would have a negative effect on these expenditures and consequently reduce state general fund revenue derived from associated taxes and fees by an indeterminable amount in FY 2012 and each year thereafter.
The Judicial Branch states this bill makes numerous changes to the fish and game laws that could have a fiscal impact on the Judicial Branch. The Branch states the proposed legislation reduces certain unspecified misdemeanors to violations, increases certain violations to unspecified misdemeanors, and changes the nature of some offenses without entirely eliminating them. Regarding unspecified misdemeanors, such charges can be either class A or class B, with the presumption being class B in accordance with RSA 625:9, IV. The Branch has no information to estimate the effect on the number of unspecified misdemeanors or violations that would be brought as a result of the proposed legislation to determine the fiscal impact on expenditures. The cost to the Branch to for an average violation will be $42.27 in FY 2012 and $43.02 in FY 2013, the cost for an average class B misdemeanor will be $43.58 in FY 2012 and $44.34 in FY 2013, and the cost for an average class A misdemeanor will be $60.03 in FY 2012 and $60.88 in FY 2013. The Branch is unable to determine if, in the aggregate, these changes will have a fiscal impact in excess of $10,000, but notes that the addition or reduction of just one appeal can result in a fiscal impact in excess of $10,000.
The Judicial Council states this bill may result in an indeterminable decrease in state general fund expenditures due to a decrease in charges where a right to council exists. The Council states if an individual would have been found to be indigent, the flat fee of $275 per misdemeanor would have been charged by a public defender or contract attorney. If an assigned counsel attorney was used the fee would have been $60 per hour with a cap of $1,400 for a misdemeanor charge. The Council also states additional costs could have been incurred if an appeal were filed. The public defender, contract attorney and assigned counsel rates for Supreme Court appeals is $2,000 per case, with many assigned counsel attorneys seeking permission to exceed the fee cap, although requests to exceed the fee cap are seldom granted. Finally, expenditures would have increased further if services other than counsel were requested and approved by the court during the defense of a case or during an appeal.
The New Hampshire Association of Counties states to the extent an individual would have been prosecuted, convicted, and sentenced to incarceration; the counties may have decreased expenditures. The Association is unable to determine the number of individuals who would have been detained, prosecuted or incarcerated, but would not be as a result of this bill. The average annual cost to incarcerate an individual in a county correctional facility is approximately $35,000.
The Department of Justice states this bill will have no fiscal impact on the Department.