Commission Agenda Item No. 4
Presenter: Ann Bright

Action
Disabled Veteran License
November 7, 2013

I.       Executive Summary:  TPWD staff is seeking adoption of rule amendments to allow nonresident disabled veterans to obtain a super combination hunting and "all water" fishing license package at no charge.

II.     Discussion:  Currently, a nonresident disabled veteran seeking to hunt or fish in Texas must purchase a nonresident license ($315 for a nonresident hunting license; $53 for a nonresident fishing license).  The Parks and Wildlife Code authorizes the Commission to waive the hunting license and the fishing license fees for qualified disabled veterans.  (Tex. Parks & Wild. Code §§42.012, 46.004).  This fee waiver has been implemented for resident disabled veterans by the establishment of a resident disabled veteran combination hunting and all water fishing license package (SuperCombo License) that can be obtained at no cost upon providing documentation of eligibility.  The Parks and Wildlife Code defines a qualified disabled veteran as “a veteran with a service connected disability, as defined by the Veterans’ Administration, consisting of the loss of the use of a lower extremity or of a disability rating of 60 percent or more and who is receiving compensation from the United States for the disability.”  (Tex. Parks & Wild. Code §42.012(c)).

Organizations that provide therapeutic hunting and fishing opportunities for disabled veterans have asked TPWD to alter its rules so that disabled veterans from other states are able to participate more easily in events held in Texas.  The proposed amendment would allow both resident and nonresident qualified disabled veterans to obtain a SuperCombo License at no cost.  Normally, combination licenses are available only to residents;  however, the Commission is authorized to designate a class of persons as a resident for the purpose of obtaining a combination license.  Therefore, to accommodate the provision of a SuperCombo license to qualified nonresident disabled veterans, the amendment expands the definition of resident to allow qualified nonresident disabled veterans to obtain a no cost SuperCombo license.

III.    Recommendation:  The staff recommends the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopt the following motion:

“The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopts amendments to 31 Tex. Admin. Code §53.3 as published in the October 4, 2013, issue of the Texas Register (38 Tex.Reg 6867), with changes as necessary to the proposed text.

Attachments

  1. Exhibit A - Proposed Rule Amendment (§53.3)

Commission Agenda Item No. 4
Exhibit A

WAIVER OF COMBINATION LICENSE FEE FOR DISABLE VETERANS
PROPOSAL PREAMBLE

1. Introduction.

         The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department proposes an amendment to §53.3, concerning Combination Hunting and Fishing License Packages. The proposed amendment would designate nonresident disabled veterans as Texas residents for purposes of allowing them to obtain a super combination hunting and "all water" fishing package (consisting of a resident hunting license, a migratory game bird stamp, an upland game bird stamp, an archery stamp, a resident fishing license, a freshwater fish stamp, and a saltwater sportfishing stamp with a red drum tag) and would allow nonresident disabled veterans to obtain the license at no charge.  In addition, for ease of reference a definition of “disabled veteran” is added to incorporate the definition of “qualified disabled veteran” contained in Parks and Wildlife Code, §42.012(c).

         Parks and Wildlife Code, §42.012 provides for the commission to waive the resident hunting license fee for a qualified disabled veteran. A “qualified disabled veteran” is defined by Parks and Wildlife Code, §42.012(c) as “a veteran with a service connected disability, as defined by the Veterans’ Administration, consisting of the loss of the use of a lower extremity or of a disability rating of 60 percent or more and who is receiving compensation of the United States for the disability.”  A similar waiver is created for fishing license fees under Parks and Wildlife Code, §46.004.

         Current department rules authorize a resident disabled veteran to obtain a super combination hunting and “all water” fishing license package (“super combination” license) at no charge.   However, under current rules a nonresident who is a qualified disabled veteran must pay the full fee for a nonresident hunting license ($315) or a nonresident fishing license ($53).  See, 31 TAC §53.5(a)(4), §53.6(a)(5).  Under current rules, there is also no mechanism for nonresident disabled veterans to obtain the super combination license.  Parks and Wildlife Code, §50.001(a) authorizes the department to “issue to residents of this state a combination hunting and fishing license.”  For purposes of combination licenses, Parks and Wildlife Code, §50.0011(4) defines a “resident” to include a member of a “category of individual that the commission by regulation designates as residents.”   Therefore, the facilitate the issuance of a super combination license to qualified disabled veterans, the proposed amendment  defines “resident” for purposes of obtaining a super combination hunting and “all water” fishing package super combination licenses to include a qualified disabled veteran.

         The department has received requests from organizations that provide therapeutic hunting and angling opportunities for disabled veterans to alter department rules so that disabled veterans from other states are able to participate more easily in events held in Texas. The department believes that veterans who meet the definition of qualified disabled veteran as a result of their service on behalf of all citizens should be able to participate in hunting and angling activities in Texas without the financial stress of having to purchase a nonresident hunting or fishing license, stamps, and tags.  Therefore, the proposed amendment would allow both resident and nonresident qualified disabled veterans to obtain a super combination hunting and “all water” fishing package for at no cost.

2. Fiscal Note.

         Robert Macdonald, Regulations Coordinator, has determined that for each of the first five years that the rule as proposed is in effect, there will be fiscal implications to state government as a result of enforcing or administering the proposed amendment. The cost to the department is the cost of issuing super combination license package via the department’s automated license system, which is $.76 per license.

         As noted elsewhere in this preamble, the department currently issues a resident disabled veteran super combination license package.  To determine the likely impact of the proposal, the department considered the rate at which eligible Texas residents obtain the resident disabled veteran super combination license package.  In Texas, data from the Office of the Governor indicate that there are 37,460 veterans with a service connected disability of 50% or 60% and 77,733 veterans with a service connected disability of greater than 70%.  To ensure that this analysis does not underestimate the fiscal implications of the proposed amendment to the department, the department therefore uses the aggregate of the two numbers (37,460 and 77,733) to obtain an estimate of potentially eligible Texas residents (115,193), recognizing that this number overstates the number of individuals eligible for the disabled veteran license.  Of the estimated 115,193 Texas residents who currently qualify for disabled veteran super combination license, the number who have acquired the license in each of the previous three license years (LY) is as follows:  LY 2011: 35,581; LY 2012: 38,840; LY 2013: 42,771.    Therefore, the percentage of Texas residents who currently obtain resident disabled veteran super combination license is estimated to be between 31% and 37% of Texas residents who are eligible to acquire such a license.

         The United States Census Bureau and Veteran’s Administration national data indicate that as of 2011 there were approximately 810,245 veterans with a service connected disability of 70% or greater and 386, 231 veterans with a service connected disability of 50% or 60%. To ensure that this analysis does not underestimate the fiscal implications of the proposed amendment to the department, the department therefore uses the aggregate of the two numbers (810,245 and 386,231) to obtain a national estimate of potentially eligible persons (1,196,000), recognizing that this number overstates the number of individuals who meet the definition of “qualified disabled veteran.“ Subtracting the number of Texas veterans from the national number yields an approximate value for the number of nonresident disabled veterans that would be eligible to obtain a super combination license package at no cost (1,081,283). Multiplying this number by the transaction cost associated with issuing a license yields the maximum estimated cost to the department of $821,775 if every nonresident disabled veteran with a service connected disability of 60% or greater sought to obtain a super combination license package  If nonresident qualified disabled veterans sought to obtain the super combination license at the same rate as Texas residents who are qualified disabled veterans, then between 335,198 (31% of 1,081,283) and 400,075 (37% of 1,081,283) would seek such a license resulting to an approximate cost to the department between $254,750 and $304,057.  It is highly unlikely that every person who is eligible will seek a license or that nonresidents would seek such licenses at the same rate as residents.

         Another method of estimating the potential revenue implications is to consider the percentage of the population of nonresident disabled veterans who engage in hunting and angling.  If such a percentage is similar to that of the general population (approximately 15%, based on data obtained from the 2011 national survey conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Department), the estimated cost to the department would be $123,266. However, as noted above, the department anticipates that the actual cost will be much lower, because not every qualifying nonresident veteran who participates in hunting or angling will seek to engage in hunting or angling in Texas.

         There will be no fiscal implications to other units of state and local government.

3. Public Benefit/Cost Note.

         Mr. Macdonald also has determined that for each of the first five years the rule as proposed is in effect:
         (A) The public benefit anticipated as a result of enforcing or administering the rule as proposed will be ability of qualified disabled veterans to hunt and fish in Texas.

         (B) Under the provisions of Government Code, Chapter 2006, a state agency must prepare an economic impact statement and a regulatory flexibility analysis for a rule that may have an adverse economic effect on small businesses and micro-businesses. As required by Government Code, §2006.002(g), the Office of the Attorney General has prepared guidelines to assist state agencies in determining a proposed rule’s potential adverse economic impact on small businesses. Those guidelines state that an agency need only consider a proposed rule’s “direct adverse economic impacts” to small businesses and micro-businesses to determine if any further analysis is required. For that purpose, the department considers “direct economic impact” to mean a requirement that would directly impose recordkeeping or reporting requirements; impose taxes or fees; result in lost sales or profits; adversely affect market competition; or require the purchase or modification of equipment or services.

         The department has determined that there will be no adverse economic effects on small businesses, microbusinesses, or persons required to comply with the rule as proposed. Accordingly, the department has not prepared a regulatory flexibility analysis under Government Code, Chapter 2006.

         (C) The department has not drafted a local employment impact statement under the Administrative Procedures Act, §2001.022, as the agency has determined that the rule as proposed will not impact local economies.

         (D) The department has determined that Government Code, §2001.0225 (Regulatory Analysis of Major Environmental Rules), does not apply to the proposed rule.

         (E) The department has determined that there will not be a taking of private real property, as defined by Government Code, Chapter 2007, as a result of the proposed rule.

4. Request for Public Comment.

         Comments on the proposed rule may be submitted to http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/business/feedback/public_comment/ or Robert Macdonald, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, 4200 Smith School Road, Austin, Texas, 78744; (512) 389-4775 (e-mail: robert.macdonald@tpwd.texas.gov).

5. Statutory Authority.

         The amendment is proposed under the authority of Parks and Wildlife Code, §50.0001 which authorizes the commission to designate by rule a category of person as residents for purposes of the issuance of combination licenses.

         The proposed amendment affects Parks and Wildlife Code, Chapter 50.

6. Text.

         §53.3. Combination Hunting and Fishing License Packages.

                 (a) Combination hunting and fishing license packages may be priced at an amount less than the sum of the license and stamp prices of the individual licenses and stamps included in the package.

                 (1) Resident combination hunting and freshwater fishing package — $50. Package consists of a resident hunting license, a resident fishing license and a freshwater fish stamp;

                 (2) Resident combination hunting and saltwater fishing package — $55. Package consists of a resident hunting license, a resident fishing license, a saltwater sportfishing stamp, and a red drum tag;

                 (3) Resident combination hunting and "all water" fishing package — $60. Package consists of a resident hunting license, a resident fishing license, a freshwater fish stamp, a saltwater sportfishing stamp, and a red drum tag;

                 (4) Resident senior combination hunting and freshwater fishing package — $16. Package consists of a senior resident hunting license, a senior resident fishing license and a freshwater fish stamp;

                 (5) Resident senior combination hunting and saltwater fishing package — $21. Package consists of a senior resident hunting license, a senior resident fishing license, a saltwater sportfishing stamp, and a red drum tag;

                 (6) Resident senior combination hunting and "all water" fishing package — $26. Package consists of a senior resident hunting license, a senior resident fishing license, a freshwater fish stamp, a saltwater sportfishing stamp, and a red drum tag;

                 (7) Resident super combination hunting and "all water" fishing package — $68. Package consists of a resident hunting license, a migratory game bird stamp, an upland game bird stamp, an archery stamp, a resident fishing license, a freshwater fish stamp, and a saltwater sportfishing stamp with a red drum tag;

                 (8) Resident senior super combination hunting and "all water" fishing package — $32. Package consists of a senior resident hunting license, a migratory game bird stamp, an upland game bird stamp, an archery stamp, a senior resident fishing license, a freshwater fish stamp, and a saltwater sportfishing stamp with a red drum tag;

                 (9) Disabled[Resident disabled] veteran super combination hunting and "all water" fishing package — $0. Package consists of a resident hunting license, a migratory game bird stamp, an upland game bird stamp, an archery stamp, a resident fishing license, a freshwater fish stamp, and a saltwater sportfishing stamp with a red drum tag;

                 (10) Texas resident active duty military super combination hunting and "all water" fishing package — $0. Package consists of a resident hunting license, an upland game bird stamp, a migratory game bird stamp, an archery stamp, a resident fishing license, a freshwater fish stamp, and a saltwater sportfishing stamp with a red drum tag; and

                 (11) Replacement combination or replacement super combination packages — $10 except for a replacement disabled veteran super combination hunting and "all water" fishing package or a Texas resident active duty military super combination hunting and "all water" fishing package, which shall be replaced at no charge.

         (b) A nonresident disabled veteran is a resident for the purpose of obtaining a super combination hunting and “all water” fishing package.

         (c) For purposes of this section, a “disabled veteran” is a veteran with a service connected disability, as defined by the Veterans’ Administration, consisting of the loss of the use of a lower extremity or of a disability rating of 60 percent or more and who is receiving compensation of the United States for the disability

         This agency hereby certifies that the proposal has been reviewed and found to be within the agency’s authority to adopt.


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