TODAY: US Congress Moves Toward Land Access For Energy and Outdoor Sports
Click HERE to watch the markup beginning at 4:00 PM ET
Remarks as prepared for delivery:
“Today, the Committee will consider several important bipartisan bills, beginning with H.R. 3668—the Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement, or SHARE Act. This legislation strengthens the foundation of our country’s hunting and fishing heritage and helps ensure the next generation of sportsmen and women continue to enjoy access to our nation’s federal lands and waterways to carry out these activities and traditions.
“Sportsmen and women depend on reliable access to the more than 640 million acres of federal public lands to participate in recreational activities like hunting. Unfortunately, these lands are not being managed to facilitate consistent, open access for hunters. A 2004 report found that over 35 million acres of BLM and Forest Service land lacked adequate access for hunting. H.R. 3668 will ensure millions of American sportsmen and women can continue their enthusiastic participation in traditional outdoor sporting activities—including hunting, shooting and angling—unimpeded by federal bureaucrats and burdensome regulations.
“We also will consider H.R. 210, bipartisan legislation to promote energy development by Native American tribes and Alaska Native Corporations, sponsored by Congressman Young. This legislation will provide tribes, some of whom experience high unemployment, opportunities to boost jobs and revenue by developing resources on their lands.
“Finally, we will consider five commonsense bills to advance the Committee’s longer-term goal of updating and improving the Endangered Species Act—which was last reauthorized in 1988. Most of these measures enjoy bipartisan support and a few have previously passed the House as part of other measures…”
Click here for more information on today’s markup.
NOTE: After opening statements today, the markup will reconvenetomorrow at 10:00 AM for votes. Click here to view tomorrow’s live webcast.
AFTER THE COMMITTEE MEETING REPORT:
Washington, D.C. – Today, the Subcommittee on Federal Lands held a legislative hearing on H.R. 3668, the “Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act of 2017” or “SHARE Act.” The bill increases opportunities for hunters, anglers and shooters, eliminates red tape impeding outdoor sporting activities, and protects Second Amendment Rights.
“Outdoor sporting activities, including hunting, fishing and recreational shooting, are deeply engrained in the fabric of America’s culture and heritage. Values of personal responsibility, resource management and conservation and outdoor recreation instilled by these activities are passed down from generation to generation and play a significant role in the lives of millions of Americans,” Subcommittee Chairman Tom McClintock (R-CA) said.
Outdoor sporting activities are a major economic driver in the United States. According to the Outdoor Industry Association, sportsmen and women annually generate 7.6 million American jobs, $65.3 billion in federal tax revenues and a combined $59.2 billion in state and local taxes.
Despite the significant economic benefits of outdoor sporting activities, unnecessary bureaucratic roadblocks inhibit access to these activities on federal lands.
“Among the Most commonly cited reasons by Americans who have given up on these recreational pursuits on public lands are access issues,”McClintock argued.
The “SHARE Act” includes multiple provisions that improve access and opportunities for outdoor recreation and sporting activities on federal lands, including requiring the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management to be “open until closed” for recreational hunting, fishing and shooting.
“As a nation, we must encourage all Americans, and in particular young people and urban residents, to increase their participation in wildlife-oriented recreation, including hunting, shooting and fishing,” Anna Seidman, Director of Government Affairs for the Safari Club International Seidman, said. “[The ‘SHARE Act’] removes statutory and regulatory obstacles that inhibit federal agencies from providing access and opportunities [for sportsmen and women].”
The “SHARE Act” also increases safety and hearing protection for sportsmen and women by removing onerous requirements associated with purchasing hearing protection equipment.
“No reason exists why one should be forced to damage one’s hearing to hunt, target shoot, or exercise one’s second Amendment rights,” Stephen Halbrook, an attorney who specializes in Second Amendment issues, stated.
The bill prevents firearm mufflers from being regulated under the 1934 National Firearms Act, which requires a $200 transfer tax fee. It also ends the requirement that law-abiding gun owners go through a secondary, outmoded federal background check and continues to treat mufflers as firearms subject to extensive regulations under the Gun Control Act.
“[The ‘SHARE Act’] would protect law enforcement interests while at the same time allowing law-abiding gun owners to protect their health better and to reduce noise pollution,” Halbrook added.
Christopher Sharon, CEO of Hope for the Warriors, added that firearm mufflers are vital for veterans’ enjoyment of the outdoors, pointing to the prevalence of hearing loss for those who have trained and served in our military.
“Preserving what remains of our heroes’ hearing, while still giving them the opportunities to live a full life is our goal,” Sharon stated.
Click here to view full witness testimony.
Click here for more information on the “SHARE Act.”