Pennsylvania is one step closer to enacting legislation to reduce the length of terms for the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat commissioners. Legislation written by PA Rep. Doyle Heffley (R-Carbon) passed with bipartisan support though the House of Representatives on Wednesday.
"House Bill 798 intends to provide needed oversight and provide much-needed accountability of the commission to the general public, while also fulfilling its mission to look after the boating and fishing interests of Pennsylvanians," said Heffley, a member of the House Game and Fisheries Committee. "It is important that these commissioners serve the best interests of the fishing and boating community and protect the commonwealth's waterways."
House Bill 798, if enacted, would reduce the length of commissioners' terms from eight years to four years, with the opportunity for additional terms through reappointment. This bill aims to hold the commissioners more accountable to the public through the appointment and confirmation process through the Senate. It would also remove limitations on service, allowing for multiple four-year terms of continuous service. Vacancies would still be filled for partial terms.
Under current law, a Fish and Boat commissioner's term of service is eight years and a member who fills a vacancy of less than four years is eligible for reappointment. However, a member who serves a full eight-year term, or fills a vacancy for more than four years, is not eligible for reappointment for a period of eight years.
This legislation was proposed on the heels of sharp decreases in fishing licenses sold each year, as well as the reduction of trout stocked across the Commonwealth.
Similar legislation, House Bill 828, also passed in the House to reduce the terms of the Game commissioners from eight to four years. Both bills head to the Senate for consideration.