SALT LAKE CITY — Utah may soon implement a law that would force Utahns to prioritize paying child support over hunting and fishing.
Legislation that would bar the state from issuing annual hunting and fishing licenses or permits to a person who owes at least $2,500 in child support payments soared through the Senate Tuesday with a single dissenting vote. HB197 will now go before the governor for his signature or veto.
A number of other states have done this and seen a dramatic increase in their collections, said Senate sponsor Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross.
During a Feb. 11 committee meeting, bill sponsor Rep. Karianne Lisonbee, R-Clearfield, said almost $400 million in child support has yet to be collected in Utah — a sum that impacts more than 112,000 children.
For this reason, the bill’s impact could be widespread.
An earlier iteration of the bill would have applied to more than 21,000 people who purchased a hunting or fishing license and are delinquent on paying child support. However, it was narrowed after the Utah Department of Natural Resources expressed concerns that state revenue and federal funds would have been reduced over $1.5 million a year with its implementation.
The narrowed version of the bill reduced the sum to about $400,000 a year as it would allow restoration of the license after the parent makes an effort to set up a payment plan with recovery services. This would apply to about 6,700 Utahns, according to Lisonbee.
Permits typically cost about $38 for a license and around $10 for a big game draw application.