The House shot down an attempt by a Casper legislator to remove health insurance premiums from a Game & Fish Department state funding bill Thursday, and sent it to final reading.
Rep. Gerald Gay (R-Casper) sought an amendment to Senate File 45 that would have eliminated about $4.7 million in general fund monies that would pay for Game & Fish employees’ health insurance premiums. The bill is designed to allow the department to spend more of its revenue from hunting and fishing license fees on wildlife programs and less on administration expenses.
Gay claimed that the department has an abundance of revenues, including about $6 million from Pittman-Robertson taxes on firearms and ammunition, plus an unexpected increase in non-resident fishing license fees.
“They’ve got their hands pretty deep into the general taxpayers’ pocket,” he said, which, as with many of Gay’s pronouncements on the House floor, made absolutely no sense since he was talking about specific taxes and fees not paid by “general taxpayers.”
The House obviously didn’t agree, defeating Gay’s amendment loudly on a voice vote. If SF 45 is passed by the House on third reading Friday with no amendments, it will not need a conference committee and will go directly to Gov. Matt Mead’s desk for approval. The governor has supported the bill, which also includes $2 million in state funds to pay for grizzly bear management.