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Electronic Duck Stamp Act of 2005

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. WALDEN of Oregon. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I am pleased to support Senate 1496, the Electronic Duck Stamp Act. I would also like to compliment the author of this legislation, Senator MIKE CRAPO, and the sponsors of the House version, Congressmen RON KIND and CHIP PICKERING.

The first Federal duck stamp was issued in 1934. Since that time, hunters and wildlife art enthusiasts have purchased more than 122 million stamps that have produced more than $700 million in revenues. With those funds, the Migratory Bird Commission has conserved more than 5.2 million acres of land that have provided essential habitat for countless migratory birds.

Senate 1496 is a positive step in the right direction of bringing this program into the 21st century. Today, hunters and fishermen throughout the United States can obtain their necessary State licenses online. The Electronic Duck Stamp Act will direct the Secretary of the Interior to conduct a 3-year pilot program by allowing certain States to issue electronic Federal migratory bird stamps.

Under the terms of the bill, the Fish and Wildlife Service will approve the application of any interested States that will include the format of the stamp, a description of any processing fees, the process of delivering the actual printed duck stamp and the issuance of any duplicate stamps. In addition, the legislation contains safeguards to ensure customer satisfaction, the maintenance of traditional stamps and adequate retail availability of the actual stamp.

Senate 1496 is the result of successful negotiations between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the States and conservation organizations. It is a sound bill that will provide customer convenience without undermining the Federal duck stamp program. After the 3-year trial period, Congress can then decide whether to make the electronic duck stamps a permanent fixture.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I urge an ``aye'' vote on Senate 1496.

Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.

Mr. WALDEN of Oregon. Mr. Speaker, I yield such time as he may consume to the gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Garrett) for a colloquy.

Mr. GARRETT of New Jersey. Mr. Speaker, with regard to S. 1496, this program, my understanding, creates a 3-year pilot program to distribute Federal duck stamps electronically. Duck stamps are something which I am very familiar with and am completely in support of the overall program. These stamps are sold to hunters, conservationists and collectors, raising funds to acquire land in the national wildlife
refuge system, which, in turn, are then beneficial to the duck hunters in my district and yours as well.

The question goes to the overall cost of this system and who will be paying for the system. Traditionally, under the duck stamp program, it is not a cost to the overall taxpayers of the country. Rather, it is those who enter in to select to buy the duck stamps themselves.

However, this is the point. CBO estimates that this bill will cost $750,000, or three-quarters of a million dollars, over the next 3 years to implement and that the fees authorized will not be sufficient to offset this cost. In light of this report from the CBO, can you assure us that the costs will be generated from the actual sale of the stamps, and can you point out where the error has been, therefore, in the CBO cost estimates in this program?

Mr. WALDEN of Oregon. Mr. Speaker, will the gentleman yield?

Mr. GARRETT of New Jersey. I yield to the gentleman from Oregon.

Mr. WALDEN of Oregon. Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the gentleman's question.

The CBO does estimate, indeed, that the implementing legislation would cost the Federal Government $750,000 over the next 3 years, assuming the availability of appropriated funds. However, this is also set up and estimates the Fish and Wildlife Service would spend $250,000 annually to carry out the 3-year project, again, assuming the availability of appropriated funds, but the legislation makes it very specific that they can recoup their costs as an administrative fee when they issue the duck stamp.

So it should become very self-supporting. Just as you referenced in the other program, they can actually add a cost to cover their administrative costs. We are just trying to simplify this, make it available online to duck hunters as an ease. They will still get the duck stamp in the mail, but we anticipate fully in the legislation the cost to be recovered by the users.

Mr. GARRETT of New Jersey. I do appreciate that.

So it is your understanding that there is, in essence, a base price for the stamp and then maybe perhaps, I will use the term supplemental cost, which will be the costs going on the sale over the Web or whatever the exchange is.

Mr. WALDEN of Oregon. That is my understanding, yes.

Mr. GARRETT of New Jersey. I apologize for being redundant on this point, is there something specific that I that can look back to specifically in the language that says that, that goes to that point?

Mr. WALDEN of Oregon. If the gentleman will suspend for a moment.

Mr. GARRETT of New Jersey. I think we are on the same page on this. I want to just make sure that it is revenue neutral.

Mr. WALDEN of Oregon. It is a several page bill. If we had had a little advance warning, we could have had it highlighted here.

Section 6(3)(c), Electronic Stamp Issuance Fee. A State participating in the pilot program may charge a reasonable fee to cover costs incurred by the State and the Department of the Interior in issuing electronic stamps under the program, including costs of delivery of actual stamps.

Does that clarify?

Mr. GARRETT of New Jersey. I thank you.

Mr. WALDEN of Oregon. Does that satisfy the gentleman's question then?

Mr. GARRETT of New Jersey. Yes.

Mr. WALDEN of Oregon. Very good.

Mr. WALDEN of Oregon. Mr. Speaker, I encourage my colleagues to support S. 1496, and I yield back the balance of my time.

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