Saying Minnesota provides more outdoor opportunities than any other state, retired Vikings coach Bud Grant appeared before a Senate committee Tuesday vigorously supporting an increase in hunting and fishing license fees.
"I'm not here to promote a stadium, I'm here to promote something more important than a stadium," Grant told the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee. "We're very privileged in this state, which I consider the crown jewel of the United States.
"We have a great DNR. But they need the capacity to do the things that have to be done to maintain the quality of life that we have."
Gov. Mark Dayton last year proposed increasing the cost of resident and nonresident hunting and fishing license fees, but the idea failed to get a hearing at the Capitol.
The bill heard Tuesday, sponsored by Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen R- Alexandria, chair of the Environment and Natural Resources Committee, passed that panel unanimously, and boosts the chances license costs could rise beginning in March 2013.
Ingebrigtsen's bill would increase the price of a resident fishing license from $17 to $22. A small game license would rise from $19 to $22. Deer licenses would go from $26 to $30.
"The Game and Fish Fund supports the foundation of fish and wildlife conservation," DNR fish and wildlife division director Ed Boggess told the committee. But the license-supported fund will be insolvent by July 2013 without a fee increase.
Minnesota is a "top five" destination among states for anglers nationwide, Boggess said. But only 12 states charge less than Minnesota does for a resident fishing license.
Dayton proposed license fee increases this session that would raise about $6 million more over two years than Ingebrigtsen's bill would.
"We just thought [the governor's proposals] were a little high in some areas," Ingebrigtsen said.
Ingebrigtsen's authorship signals the bill will pass the Republican- controlled Senate. A companion bill has not been introduced in the House.