LANSING — The Michigan House of Representatives passed House Bill 5002 and House Bill 5003 today, a bipartisan package sponsored by state Reps. Julie Brixie (D-Meridian Township) and Gary Howell (R-North Branch).

The legislation would reinstate the optional $2 youth fishing license in Michigan, which was inadvertently repealed in 2016. As a result, Michigan has lost federal Dingell-Johnson funding each state secures in part by issuing more fishing licenses.

“Along with the federal funds, the youth fishing license raised enough to fund contamination and remediation efforts for a good-sized inland lake every year,” Brixie said. “It also provided each child with what is likely the first official documentation they can put in their wallet or purse, giving them a sense of pride and that feeling of belonging to a community.”

Under current law, those under the age of 17 are not required to purchase a fishing license. Brixie and Howell’s legislation would reestablish an $2 optional youth license, which they say is a great way to help inspire future generation to enjoy Michigan’s vast natural resources and fishing opportunities, while supporting the conservation efforts that are essential to our fishing heritage.

“Nothing would be better than to know that this proposal will have a positive impact on our young people,” Howell said. “I’m pleased to have worked in a bipartisan manner alongside Rep. Brixie on this legislation. We want to see our young people enjoy all Michigan has to offer.”

Brixie and Howell’s legislation is supported by environmental and fishing organizations in Michigan, including: Michigan United Conservation Clubs, Michigan Steelhead and Salmon Fishermen’s Association, Sierra Club Michigan Chapter, Michigan League of Conservation Voters, Michigan Clean Water Action, Michigan Environmental Council, Michigan Charter Boat Association, and Michigan Trout Unlimited.

The bills now move to the Senate for further consideration.