January 22, 2024
Washington Senate Agriculture, Water, Natural Resources & Parks Committee
Senate Committee Services
P.O. Box 40466
Olympia, WA 98504-0466
Dear Chairman Van De Wege and Members of the Senate Agriculture, Water, Natural Resources & Parks Committee:
On behalf of Independent Women’s Voice, I strongly encourage the passage of Washington State Senate Joint Resolution 8208 (SJR8208), introduced by State Senators Kurt Wagoner and Matt Boehnke, to establish a constitutional right to hunt and fish in Washington. Independent Women’s Voice fights for women and their loved ones by effectively expanding support for policy solutions that aren’t just well-intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, opportunities, and well-being.
SJR 8208 seeks to put a constitutional amendment to enshrine the right to hunt and fish in the state constitution on the 2024 ballot for a vote. This measure, if approved, would preempt future attacks on these cherished American activities. This right should be preserved for Washingtonians since it bolsters wildlife management, supports countless jobs, and perpetuates true conservation practices. The amendment also wouldn’t stifle existing laws pertaining to trespassing or property rights.
It’s no exaggeration to say that hunting and fishing are under attack in America–including Washington State–today. Radical entities like Washington Wildlife First and Wildlife for All are openly calling to reimage state wildlife agencies and divorce hunters and anglers, the largest drivers of conservation funding, from critical conservation decisions.
In Washington, hunting and target shooting cumulatively support over 10,000 jobs and pump $1.38 billion annually back into the state’s economy, while recreational fishing supports over 16,000 jobs and has a $2.6 billion economic output. If these activities aren’t protected, they risk going extinct by incremental bans that ultimately put conservation at risk. Last year, under the Pittman-Robertson Act, the Evergreen State received over $22.6 million in conservation funding from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Fund (Pittman-Robertson and Dingell-Johnson/Wallop-Breaux) to be directed to wildlife conservation, habitat restoration, hunters education, and public target shooting ranges.
Since 1937, $27 billion has been dispersed to all 50 states. Over $16 billion has been generated by excise taxes collected on firearms and ammunition purchases under the Pittman-Robertson Act. Adjusted for inflation, this amount totals $25 billion. A historic $1.6 billion haul was raked in last year. Given the success of this, the Tax Foundation dubbed this as a “good excise tax.”
Twenty-three U.S. states currently enshrine this right to hunt and fish in their respective state constitutions. Washington State could become the 24th state to take a serious stand for true conservation and these timeless American pastimes.
For all these reasons, we urge all members of the Washington legislature to work toward the swift passage of SJR 8208. Independent Women’s Voice thanks the committee for considering our testimony.
Director of the Center for Energy and Conservation
Independent Women’s Voice