Election Watch 2016

US Capitol

With a presidential election coming up next week, our members of Congress have been more focused on campaigning than working on legislation. However, we can expect things to heat up during the “lame duck” session after the votes are counted and through the rest of the year.

First, one caveat – the 2016 elections have been more volatile and unpredictable than usual. Because of this, the election’s effect on fishing-related legislation is almost impossible to predict. After the dust settles from the elections on November 8, not only will we have a new President but we may see significant changes in Congress. The U.S. Senate majority could flip from the Republicans to the Democrats. Chairmanships of key committees like the Senate Environment and Public Works and Commerce committees could change. All of this could certainly affect the timeline on some of these legislative issues.

That said, here are updates on a few key pieces of legislation we’ve worked on together in 2016.

Sportsmen’s Act

Different versions of the Sportsmen’s Act have been working their way through Congress for several years now. The U.S. House passed a version in February and then several key provisions were passed by the Senate as part of an energy bill in April.

Since the House and Senate passed different versions of the bill, they must now meet to reconcile them in a conference committee. Will Congress step up and protect traditional fishing tackle from unwarranted bans, require that federal land management agencies support recreational fishing access, and authorize important programs for fish habitat conservation? That all depends on the outcome of the conference committee negotiations, which will unfold over the coming months.

Everglades

Important legislation designed to address many of the water problems in the Everglades has been passed by both the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives.

Included as part of the Water Resources Development Act, authorization of the Central Everglades Planning Project (CEPP) will help bring critical relief to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuary systems, and will also facilitate the flow and treatment of water south of Lake Okeechobee into the Everglades system.

Like the Sportsmen’s Act, the House and Senate passed different versions of the Water Resources Development Act so are now moving into conference so a final version can be approved and hopefully, signed into law.

Biscayne National Park Fishing Closure

Earlier this summer, The Access for Sportfishing Act of 2016 was introduced. This bill would help ensure public access to public waters by stopping the unwarranted fishing closure in Biscayne National Park. As an added bonus, this bill would strengthen the Billfish Conservation Act of 2012.

In June, the bill was passed by the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation and may go for a vote before the full Senate this fall.

As you can see, the late fall could be a very busy time for legislation related to fishing. Count on Keep America Fishing to keep you up to date with everything that’s going on in Washington, DC and in state capitols all around the country.