New legislation would boost Wallop-Breaux

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senators Trent Lott (R-Miss.) and Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) recently introduced legislation to restructure the Aquatic Resources Trust Fund, also known as the Wallop-Breaux Trust Fund, to distribute the proceeds more equitably, the National Marine Manufacturers Association said in a release yesterday.

The fund, which distributes nearly $500 million in federal funds to states for boating and fishing programs, is a “user pays, user benefits” program in which excise taxes collected on motorboat and small engine fuels and fishing equipment are devoted to activities like stocking fish, maintaining boating access areas, and boating safety education programs.

The bill would consolidate the fund's receipts and distribute them according to a more equitable formula recommended by the American League of Anglers and Boaters. Lott and Kohl are co-chairs of the Senate Boating Caucus, a bipartisan group of Senators concerned with issues affecting boating, fishing, recreation and the marine industry.

The senators also introduced a second bill that would recover approximately an additional $110 million per year of excise taxes paid by anglers and boaters, but diverted to the general fund. Under current law, only 13.5 cents of the 18.3 cents that is collected on motorboat and small engine fuels is sent to the Aquatic Resources Trust Fund. Restoring the remaining 4.8 cents per gallon in excise taxes will significantly boost funding for vital programs within the Wallop-Breaux Trust Fund, NMMA said.

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