SB 187: Questions Abound About Fishing License Bill’s Failure

Shifting to a 12-month fishing license cycle had broad support and no opposition, so why did it fail?

SACRAMENTO — It’s no secret money and politics go together. What remains secretive is how money dictates the policies directly governing our lives. Some questioned whether money was a factor in the sudden demise of a proposal to overhaul California’s fishing license system.

No sooner did the bill fail to emerge out of the Assembly’s Appropriations Committee did California’s anglers look to the board’s membership and question why they failed to recommend Senate Bill 187 (SB 187) for passage.

Some pondered whether Assembly member Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, who chaired the Appropriations Committee, had incentive to kill the bill. Gonzalez Fletcher, interestingly enough, represents San Diego, which is one of California’s top destinations for anglers.

The Log reached out to Gonzalez’s office and made initial contact with one of her staff members, hoping to gain some perspective as to why SB 187 failed to cross the finish line despite overwhelming support and no known opposition.

When asked for an explanation as to why SB 187 was not recommended to move forward out of committee, her office went radio silent; her press representative, Alex Roth, has not yet responded to The Log’s questions. We specifically asked why SB 187 did not make it out of Appropriations despite having no opposition on record or during any stage of voting.

We also asked why the bill was killed in Appropriations Committee when five of its members voted in favor of SB 187 while sitting on another committee.

Of course there might well be a reasonable answer for why SB 187, which many of its proponents considered to be a common sense proposal, was killed in the Appropriations Committee. The Log will continue searching for answers beyond this particular story. Readers are also encouraged to reach out to members of the Appropriations Committee and ask questions of their elected representatives.

As we pursue our quest for answers, let us look back on how we arrived to today’s current predicament.

SB 187: A Quick Recap

SB 187, had it made it out of the legislature and later signed into law, would have established a 12-month cycle for fishing licenses. All fishing licenses in California expire Dec. 31, regardless of when purchased. The state does not prorate the license fee for later purchases.

More than 50 organizations and agencies supported the proposal, according to an Assembly analysis in June. The same analysis listed zero opponents and 3,211 individual supporters.

The 12-month license proposal also garnered unanimous support as it moved through the State Senate. Three State Senate committees approved SB 187 by 9-0, 7-0 and 7-0 votes, respectively. All 40 senators voted in favor of the bill when it came to a full vote on May 31.

State Sen. Tom Berryhill’s proposal also earned unanimous support – 15-0 vote – in the Assembly’s Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee.

Unanimous votes on five occasions and no listed opposition to the bill naturally caused anglers to wonder why SB 187 was held during the late stages of this year’s legislative process.

Appropriations Committee

It is common for legislative proposals with a fiscal effect to forwarded to the State Senate’s or Assembly’s Appropriations Committee when it is relatively close to being approved by both houses and forwarded to the governor for signature or veto.

SB 187 jumped through all the hurdles in the State Senate, meaning Assembly support was necessary for it to move forward. The Assembly’s Appropriations Committee, accordingly, was the proposal’s final stop; it would not be voted on by the lower house’s full membership without the committee’s positive recommendation.

The announcement of which bills are recommended for a full vote and which aren’t often comes without explanation, so anglers and fishing groups were left in the dark as to why the Appropriations Committee did not recommend SB 187 for a full vote.

Gov. Jerry Brown, by comparison, issues a veto message every time he rejects a legislative proposal. The veto message is made public on his website and easily accessible for everyone to see. Each message offers a one- or two-paragraph explanation of what Brown believed to be the bill’s shortcoming(s).

Why is such transparency prevalent at the executive level but not with a legislative committee’s decision?

Overlapping Committee Members?

The 12-month fishing license proposal, as mentioned above, did not receive a single opposition vote as it moved through the legislature. Of note are the handful of Appropriations Committee members who also sit on the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee.

At least five Assembly members serve on both committees, which were the final two boards to review SB 187 before it was killed; 17 Assembly members sit on Appropriations, while 15 serve on Water, Parks and Wildlife.

All five members who sit on both committees had supported SB 187 when Water, Parks and Wildlife deliberated the proposal. Did those five Assembly members still support SB 187 when it shifted to Appropriations? Perhaps one, some or all of them changed their mind? Or maybe they still supported the proposal but couldn’t convince other Appropriations Committee members to join them in support?

Such questions aren’t unreasonable to ask when a proposal moves through the process unopposed but is suddenly killed toward the end without explanation – particularly when some members on the committee that killed the bill were also on another committee where it was unanimously supported.

The five Assembly members, by the way, are Frank Bigelow, Raul Bocanegra, Laura Friedman, James Gallagher and Eduardo Garcia. Bigelow serves as vice-chair of the Appropriations Committee.

Also sitting on the Appropriations Committee, are Assembly members Gonzalez-Fletcher, Richard Bloom, Rob Bonta, William Brough, Ian Calderon, Ed Chau, Susan Talamantes Eggman, Vince Fong, Adam Gray, Reginald Byron Jones-Sawyer, Jay Obernolte and Eloise G. Reyes.

Organizations and Agencies In Support of SB 187

Among the organizations and agencies in support of SB 187, according to an Assembly analysis of the bill, were: Abu Garcia, Berkley Fishing, CalAsian Chamber of Commerce, California Association for Recreational Fishing, California Association of Harbor Masters and Port Captains, California Chamber of Commerce, California Hotel & Lodging Association, California Parks Company, California Sportfishing League (Sponsor), California Yacht Brokers Association, County of Mariposa, Fred Hall Shows, Greater Stockton Chamber of Commerce, Mammoth Lakes Tourism, Marina Recreation Association, Mono County Fisheries Commission, Orange County Business Council, Oxnard Chamber of Commerce, Penn Fishing, Pure Fishing, Sacramento Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, San Diego Regional Chamber, San Diego Tourism Authority, San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, San Jose Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce,  Santa Monica Travel & Tourism, Sportfishing Association of California, Visit Huntington Beach and Western Outdoor News.

Reaching Out

Feel free to contact Gonzalez or Bigelow for questions about SB 187. Gonzalez Fletcher’s office phone numbers are 916-319-2080 and 619-338-8090. Bigelow can be contacted at 916-319-2005, 559-673-0501, 530-295-5505 or 209-223-0505.

NWFSC NOAA photo

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13 thoughts on “SB 187: Questions Abound About Fishing License Bill’s Failure

  • October 19, 2017 at 11:34 am
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    CAN YOU SAY RECALL?

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  • October 19, 2017 at 11:48 am
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    Thanks to The Log for looking into the perplexing death of this popular bill. In addition to broad-based support, the bill actually made sense, and would have gone a long ways towards turning around the alarming decrease in CA fishing licenses. Fewer fishermen have a significant negative effect on the State’s coffers, drying up funding streams for fish stocking, conservation programs, junior outreach, etc. If as suspected, Gonzalez Fletcher was complicit in this, she needs to be outed and own up to it. It is outrageous that a representative of San Diego would be so arrogant and short-sighted. It will be interesting to see if she has the spine to respond. If she is the culprit, CA fishermen need to show up in force at the ballot box, and get her out.

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  • October 19, 2017 at 12:55 pm
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    Thank you, Log, for looking into this. I have often not bought a fishing license because the year was more than half over. There must be a reason this bill was killed and I sure would like to know why.

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  • October 19, 2017 at 1:35 pm
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    We all know Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher does not vote for anything unless you line her lockers with money. She is a typical corrupt politician.

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  • October 19, 2017 at 2:54 pm
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    Called the office as you shared. Nice person answered and stated this is the process and tried to explain that alot of the Bills don’t go thru because of fiscal issues etc. When i shared that this is a pay for service..it isn’t being given for free and fees are added to our fishing license from time to time and that fishermen and women wouldn’t mind a $5 dollar fee if it meant our license was good for a full year. It was recommended I go on the website and look at the analytics or call the Author for a possible answer. My opinion – whether you call it a vote or a decision the members of the committee had to say yes or no whether or not SB187 moved further forward or not. Common sense definitely did not come into play for this bill which would’ve helped everyday folks who fish and pay for the privilege even just a little bit..

    Reply
  • October 19, 2017 at 6:41 pm
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    Corrupt politician on the take from the corrupt humane society/ Only in California with the anti hunting and fishing group put on the fish and wildlife commission by our anti fishing and hunting billionaire governor Brown out of touch with the people of California bought another politician/

    Reply
  • October 20, 2017 at 9:19 am
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    Less licenses sold is more fish for commercial fisherman to sell to restaurants at high prices to consumers. Fish was poor man’s food, no longer .$10 fish sandwich anyone?

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  • October 20, 2017 at 1:16 pm
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    Hello Parimal – Great investigative reporting. In particular, I appreciate your call for transparency. The sportfishing community worked many years to earn the support of nearly every state organization representing business, labor, travel, boaters, marinas, campgrounds, hospitality and more. As a consequence, a bill supported by all and opposed by none is dead. The defeat of this bill will not only harm the state fisheries dependent on fishing license revenue, but our state and local economy. Sportfishing contributes over $4.6 billion to our state’s economy each year! The defeat of this non-controversial bill is very sad…very disappointing.

    Marko Mlikotin, Executive Director, California Sportfishing League

    Reply
  • October 20, 2017 at 3:21 pm
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    Welcome to the SWAMP! You’re getting an up-close introduction to one of San Diego’s own swamp monsters. Whatever happened to serving the public’s interests and safe guarding a healthy resource for state’s residents? I now refer to California as the “State of Confusion” not California and the U.S. not as the United States, but as “Under Siege”.

    You can’t over run the state with the undocumented, give them free health care, education and financial support without blowing up our fiscal resources. WE CANT GET A SIMPLE FISHING BILL PASSED WHEN 40% of KINDERGARDENERS CAN NOT SPEAK ENGLISH. Immigration does matter! This state is being ruined for the benefit of persons that were not born here nor love this country and its culture. It’s bull@$$t. The swamp monsters will do anything to get these undocumented converted to voters including giving this country away to serve their own selfish interests.

    Reply
  • October 20, 2017 at 3:57 pm
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    i have seen this trend since 88/89 the killing of the fish the stupid laws that are hard to understand bag limits that make it to expencive to fish for them blocking off bank fishing high price license along with the high prices of tackle and fuel added to it all it is getting to not be worth the trouble and i love to fish . now with the tunnels and draining the delta and lakes to send the water south stopping the fishermen from fishing will free all the water up for exporting it south cause no one will care about the fish anymore this is the best way to get what brown and the water people want just get rid of the fishermen and its a done deal and their rich on the sell of water they have almost got it done now i dont think it can be stopped now its to late .thank yall for trying though

    Reply
  • October 24, 2017 at 8:13 pm
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    We have to stand up….

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    • October 24, 2017 at 8:14 pm
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      We have to stand up to the people who are against us.

      Reply
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