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State Representative

ROBERT GODSHALL
SPECIAL REPORT TO SPORTSMEN
FALL 2009
Rep. Bob Godshall’s district office: 1702 Cowpath Road, Hatfield, PA 19440 Phone: 215-368-3500 Fax: 215-361-4220 On the Web: BobGodshall.com Hours: M-F 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

PRSRT STD U.S. Postage Harrisburg, PA Permit No. 529

PAID

Dear fellow outdoor enthusiast:
There have been several new changes to Pennsylvania’s hunting and gun laws and more legislation has been introduced. These changes and proposed legislation are highlighted on the following pages. Pennsylvania’s new automated licensing and permit system will make hunting, fishing and trapping licenses available at the point-of-sale, and pending legislation would make it easier for active military personnel to receive a reduced rate for hunting and fishing licenses in the Commonwealth. Best wishes to you on a safe and successful hunting season. Sincerely,

Pennsylvania Game Commission Finalizes Crossbow Regulations
To enable physically challenged hunters to more easily use a crossbow to hunt, the Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC) is now allowing crossbows to be used by all archers, not just the disabled, during any season in which bows are permitted. The new definition will include devices held in place by a brace secured around the body of the hunter. Also, a special permit is no longer required for disabled hunters who use bows and crossbows. According to the PGC, crossbows may be used by hunters participating in the 2009-10 archery deer and archery bear seasons, as well as for turkey season and the two-week-long deer season. Under state regulations, a crossbow must have a minimum drawn weight of at least 125 pounds, and a bolt must be equipped with a broad head that has an outside diameter or width of at least 7/8 inches with at least two cutting edges on the same plane throughout the length of the cutting surface, and shall not exceed three inches in length. Hunters who possess a general hunting license and an archery stamp – as well as required licenses or permits specific to the game they are hunting – can now hunt with a crossbow and participate in the early and late archery deer seasons. They can also participate in the two-day archery bear season, but they do not need an archery stamp to do so. They need only obtain a general hunting license and bear license. This change also means mentored youths can use a crossbow during these seasons as long as all other requirements of the Mentored Youth Hunting Program are followed. For further details, visit the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s Web site at www.pgc. state.pa.us and click on “Crossbow FAQ.”

Pennsylvania Automated Licensing Service Fee Now Law
A new law, Act 22, formally enacts the Pennsylvania Automated Licensing Service (PALS) fee system, which will add a small transaction fee on hunting licenses purchased through this automated system. The fee covers the actual cost of operating and maintaining the system. Hundreds of thousands of hunting, trapping and fishing licenses and related permits are issued each year. This fee will go toward automating the distribution and sale of licenses and permits at the point-of-sale. More than 30 states have automated systems or are in the process of automating. The goal is to make services more convenient for license buyers and improve revenue collection and communications between issuing agents and each commission. This fee is paid directly to the vendor and is set by contract between the Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC), the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC), the vendor of the computerized system and the Governor’s Office of Administration. Under the current contract, the cost per transaction is 70 cents.

Gun Bills Under Consideration in Legislature
A number of bills are pending in the state Legislature that would impact the state’s gun laws. They are as follows:
Bills Characterized as “Pro-Gun”: HB 40 -- Known as the “Castle Doctrine,” this legislation would expand and clarify “use of force” principles and offer liability protection for individuals who use a firearm in lawful self defense. HB 66 -- License to carry a firearm as an exception to the PICS check (instant background check for firearm purchases). HB 121 – Establishes a right to keep and bear arms sales tax holiday weekend – sales tax exemption for firearm sales the weekend after Thanksgiving. HB 387 – Requires the Pennsylvania State Police to notify people regarding any affect on firearm rights as a result of an involuntary emergency mental exam. The notice shall include an explanation of how to obtain restoration of firearm rights. Current law provides that certain involuntary mental health exams can affect firearm rights, but individuals are not provided notice of this problem. HB 761 – Establishes mandatory minimum sentencing for possession and discharge of firearm in the commission of a crime. HB 762 – Increases penalties and mandatory minimums for straw purchasing and giving firearms to persons prohibited from possession. HB 778 – Provides a sales tax exclusion for firearm safes, storage, trigger locks and cases. Bills Characterized as “Anti-Gun”: HB 346 – Requires the establishment of a ballistic identifier database and prohibit the sale of any gun which has not been entered into the database. HB 375 - Requires annual registration on all privately owned firearms (handguns, rifles, shotguns) and fingerprints, photographs and annual background checks of all firearm owners. HB 401 – “Handgun Safety Standards” – Requires “personalized” handguns so they can only be fired by an “authorized user.” Prohibits the sale of non-personalized guns, require testing and approval of guns based on Pennsylvania State Police standards and impose criminal penalties for possessing an unapproved gun. Weapon purchases for law enforcement officers would be exempt. HB 732 – Requires a driver’s license as part of the application/record of sale for a firearm. SB 27 – Limits purchases to one handgun a month (statewide). SB 35 – Requires mandatory registration of firearms in Philadelphia. SB 36 – Imposes criminal penalties for failure to report a lost/stolen gun. SB 96 -- Forfeiture of vehicles used to transport firearms in violation of the Uniform Firearms Act. SB 97 – Requires handgun purchase permits. SB 98 – Limits those who can apply for a Pennsylvania license to carry a firearm in Philadelphia (must demonstrate “good reason to fear an injury”). SB 293 – Mandates the destruction of recovered guns if a lawful owner cannot be discovered within 120 days. SB 295 – Six months after a determination that “personalized” firearms are available, this bill prohibits the sale of a firearm which is not personalized. Law enforcement officers would be exempt. SB 415 – Prohibits a person from possessing a firearm when charged with certain felonies. There is no provision to remove the firearm disability if an individual is not convicted. Further, it appears to apply to individuals previously charged and not convicted under now-expired Commonwealth laws. For more information on this legislation and to check the status of these bills online, go to: www.legis.state.pa.us.

Sign up or Tell a Friend About My Sportsmen’s Mailing List
If you are interested in receiving sportsmen’s updates, please provide your information in the space below, and return this form to my district office. You can also sign up online at BobGodshall.com. You will then receive any future communication on issues related to outdoor activities. NAME: ______________________________________________________________________________ ADDRESS: ___________________________________________________________________________ CITY: ________________________________________________________________________________ STATE/ZIP: ___________________________________ PHONE: _______________________________ E-MAIL ADDRESS: ____________________________________________________________________

or sign up online at BobGodshall.com

Mentored Youth Program Introduces Kids to Hunting
The Mentored Youth Hunting Program (MYHP) was created in 2006 to expand youth hunting opportunities and promote hunting safety for hunters under the age of 12. The goal is to instill a love of the outdoors, to increase interest in hunting and to provide hunting experience at an early age. The program has succeeded in introducing hunting to many interested youth through one-on-one instruction and the guidance of a properly licensed mentor. According to the Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC), a mentor is a properly licensed person 21 years of age or older, who serves as a guide to a youth while hunting, including teaching scouting and firearms skills, hunting safety and wildlife identification. A recent survey showed participation in the MYHP has increased each year since the program’s inception in 2006 when 43,780 youths were mentored by 32,913 adults. Last year, the number of mentored youths swelled to 71,232, led by more than 59,000 licensed adult mentors. Mentors must obtain a permit at a cost of $2.70 for each youngster they plan to take hunting. A mentored youth can only hunt squirrels, groundhogs, coyotes, antler-only deer and turkeys (spring season only.) When shooting deer, the youths are required to follow the same antler restrictions as junior license holders – one antler of at least three inches in length or one antler with at least two points. To ensure safety during the hunt, a mentored youth possessing an approved weapon must be stationary and within arm’s length of the mentor at all times. A mentor and mentored youth may not possess more than one weapon between them while hunting and the mentor must transport the weapon while in transit. Until a mentored youth turns 12, he or she is not required to take a Hunter-Trapper Education class in order to participate. However, the mentor is required to provide instruction in basic hunting safety and teach the child how to handle a firearm.

Bill to Reduce License Fees for Military Personnel Passes House
Two bills, now under consideration in the state Senate, would reduce the number of consecutive days of active duty military service required to get a reduced-fee fishing or hunting license in Pennsylvania. House Bill 95 (Fish and Boat Code) and House Bill 94 (Game Code), which won approval in the House, would reduce the active duty military service requirement from 180 consecutive days to 60. The provisions of both bills would apply to members of the Pennsylvania Army National Guard, Air National Guard or reserve component of the U.S. Armed Forces Reserve. Both bills are currently before the Senate Game and Fisheries Committee.

I believe it is important to introduce children to the outdoors when they are young. For each of the past 18 years, I have co-sponsored the annual Youth Trout Fishing Derby at Branchwood Park in Moorwood. More than 300 children, parents and guardians attended the spring outing.

violations would increase significantly under a bill now before the state Senate.House Bill 1859 would increase the penalty for intentionally, knowingly, recklessly and seriously assaulting an enforcement officer to a second-degree felony, carrying a $10,000 to $25,000 fine and up to 60 months imprisonment. Fines for illegally killing game or wildlife, knowingly, intentionally or recklessly attempting, aiding, abetting, or conspiring in the killing of wildlife, illegally selling game or animal parts, and trespassing while hunting are also increased under the bill. The fines and jail time for these violations increases, as does the duration of suspensions, denials and revocations of licenses.

Hunting Violation Fines Would Increase Under Bill Fines and penalties for a number of Game and Wildlife Code

trappers to 0.08 percent, just as it is under the state Motor Vehicle Code and the Fish and Boat Code to prevent driving and boating while intoxicated. House Bill 1523, which prohibits hunting or fur taking while under the influence of alcohol or controlled substance, lowers the blood alcohol content to 0.08 percent, down from the current 0.10 percent level. The bill also reduces the time – from three hours to two hours after hunting/fur taking – in which a sample of an adult’s or minor’s breath, blood or urine sample must be taken in order to be tested. The state game commission would need to establish regulations concerning implementation of the law. Zero tolerance continues for hunters under age 21.

Hunting, Trapping & Alcohol Don’t Mix A new bill would limit the blood alcohol levels for hunters and

versity in Maryland, and the Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC) began working together to reintroduce the fisher, a predator in the weasel family, to Pennsylvania. The Fisher Reintroduction Project sought to re-establish this native species in Pennsylvania forests. Fishers prey on small mammals and fish, and are the primary predator of porcupines. Fishers had been absent from the state for nearly 80 years, due in large part to habitat destruction. They are nomadic and depend on large areas of forests for their survival. State game lands and state forests were targeted release sites for fishers. In 1994, 22 fishers were released into the wild in Sproul State Forest in Clinton County. Release sites also included the Quehanna Wild Area and the Allegheny National Forest. Fishers have expanded their range from Pine Creek Valley to the Pocono Mountains, and it is estimated that about one-quarter of Pennsylvania is now their territory. About 190 fishers have been released in the Commonwealth since the re-introduction program began in 1994. Today, state game officials estimate the population has likely doubled since then. Fishers have been spotted in 43 of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties. It is uncertain when the fisher population will be sufficient to establish an open trapping season in Pennsylvania, but until that time, outdoor enthusiasts can be on guard for that rare opportunity to see one. The PGC wants to hear your fisher stories. If you spot a fisher in the wild, please note the location, weather and time of year, and report it to: pgccomments@state.pa.us or mail to: PA Game Commission, Bureau of Wildlife Management, ATTN: Fisher Sighting, 2001 Elmerton Ave., Harrisburg, PA 17110-9797.

Fishers Return to Pennsylvania Fifteen years ago, Penn State University, Frostburg State Uni-

Lake Erie Fishing Permits
Anglers who take the trip across the state to Lake Erie for a fishing expedition should know that a new law, Act 40 of 2009, expands the type of waterways in which a Lake Erie fishing permit is required. The law also extends the time frame for remittance of money from permit sales to the Fish Fund and expands allowable uses. New provisions in the Fish and Boat Code expand the waters in which a Lake Erie permit or combination trout/salmon Lake Erie permit is required for fishing. This would include waters that flow into tributaries of Lake Erie and Presque Isle Bay. Proceeds from Lake Erie permits, as well as $6 of the fees from the combination trout/salmon and Lake Erie permit, would be deposited into a restricted account in the Fish Fund through Dec. 31, 2014. The funds could be used to protect or improve fish habitat at Lake Erie, Presque Isle Bay and their tributaries, including waters that flow into those tributaries.

SPORTSMEN’S WEB LINKS
Pennsylvania Game Commission -- www.pgc.state.pa.us Fish and Boat Commission -- www.fish.state.pa.us Department of Conservation/Natural Resources -- www.dcnr.state.pa.us U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service -- www.fws.gov National Rifle Association -- www.nra.org

1702 Cowpath Road, Hatfield, PA 19440 Phone: 215-368-3500 Fax: 215-361-4220 On the Web: BobGodshall.com Hours: M-F 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Rep. Bob Godshall’s District Office: