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Politics & Government

DNREC retains ability to hike environmental permit fees

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DNREC will continue to administratively raise hundreds of agency fees unrelated to hunting, trapping or fishing despite Republican objections.

The Joint Bond Bill Committee approved the language Wednesday.

 

GOP legislators, including Sen. Colin Bonini (R-Dover South), praised DNREC Sec. David Small for being fiscally responsible, but say that allowing future administrators to raise fees could be problematic.

 

“Our concern is we don’t know who’s going to be [the DNREC secretary] in the future. Our concern is that this language is too broad and allow for significant fee increases without the legislature being involved,” Bonini said.

 

Small notes that the agency needs that ability so they aren’t subsidizing regulatory or oversight programs with money that could go toward other initiatives.

 

"...quite frankly, given the challenges with the budget and the amount of time – in some cases since 1992 – when those last increases went into effect, it’s time to revisit those," he said.

 

A separate bill weaving its way through the General Assembly would hike hunting and trapping fees for Delawareans and nonresidents, as well as create a "conservation pass" required to drive on public lands or those managed by the Department of Fish and Wildlife.

 

House lawmakers overwhelmingly approved of those rate hikes last week. It's now awaiting a committee hearing in the Senate.

 

Members of the Bond Bill Committee approved the language last year over similar concerns, which threatened to derail the entire capital budget.

 

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