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Fishing for Dollars
06/25/2003

So, when the state government has gotten so far out of hand that even apathetic Rhode Islanders begin to notice, what's the solution? Why, quietly instituted hidden taxes, of course!

The surprise legislative proposal, dropped into the budget endorsed last Friday night by the House Finance Committee, would require saltwater anglers to buy a fishing license, just as freshwater anglers do, at a cost of $18 annually for a state resident, $35 annually for a nonresident, or $16 for a three-day "tourist" pass.

If the saltwater licenses were structured like freshwater ones, they would be required for anyone 16 or older. Elderly and disabled residents could get free lifetime licenses.

The change, which would take effect July 1 if passed, was never the subject of a public hearing.

Hey, it's only a few bucks a year; citizens don't even need to have a say, because — really — who could object to the government's voting itself a new source of revenue? And besides:

"We have some people whose districts have a pond less than a quarter-mile away from the shore and they have to buy a license for that and not the shore," [House Finance Committee Chairman Paul Sherlock, D-Warwick] says.

Oh! It's only a matter of fairness. But wait a sec:

[director of the state Department of Environmental Management, Jan] Reitsma says one key problem is that the money raised would go into the state's general fund, rather than a dedicated account to pay for fishing habitat improvements, as freshwater license fees do.

Rhode Islanders: get these lying scumbags out of office!

Posted by Justin Katz @ 10:21 AM EST