PGC Praises Committee Approval of HB 92

HARRISBURG – Pennsylvania Game Commission Executive Director Carl G. Roe offered his praise to the Pennsylvania Senate Game and Fisheries Committee for its recent overwhelming and bi-partisan support of House Bill 92, which will enable the agency to fully transition to an electronic, point-of-sale license system, commonly referred to as Pennsylvania Automated License System.

Roe specifically noted his appreciation to Senate Game and Fisheries Committee Majority Chairman Richard Alloway II (R-33) and Minority Chairman Richard A. Kasunic (D-32) for working to move this bill forward in the Senate, which needs further action in the Senate before being sent to the Governor. On April 29, the Senate Game and Fisheries Committee reported the amended bill back to the full Senate, which then gave first consideration to the measure.

Roe also noted his thanks to House Game and Fisheries Committee Majority Chairman Edward Staback (D-60), who sponsored the bill, and to House Game and Fisheries Committee Minority Chairman Craig A. Dally (R-168), who co-sponsored the bill.

“Transitioning to PALS has been something that our license buyers and members of the General Assembly have been urging the Game Commission to do for a number of years,” Roe said. “We are excited about the many benefits that this new license sale system will provide to our license buying customers, our issuing agents and the agency.

“I want to thank Sens. Alloway and Kasunic, Reps. Staback and Dally, for their support of this measure, as well as the many members of the House and Senate Game and Fisheries Committee who have supported this bill.”

Under House Bill 92, license buyers would be assessed the actual transaction fee costs associated with implementing PALS. Presently, the transaction fee is 70-cents per license or stamp purchased. This fee would be paid directly to ALS, the Nashville-based company contracted to provide an electronic license sale system for the Game Commission, as well as the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission.

During the 2007-08 Legislative Session, the General Assembly approved a similar measure for the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission to assess transaction fees to the license buyer.

When the 2009-10 licenses go on sale in mid-June, license buyers will swipe their Pennsylvania driver’s license through a magnetic reader and all of their personal information will be filled in on the application automatically. Hunters and trappers then will be able to select the licenses and stamps they want to purchase. Residents without a driver’s license, as well as nonresidents, will have their data key-entered by the license issuing agent the first time they purchase a license through PALS.

Once an individual makes a purchase through PALS, license buyers will be assigned a permanent customer identification number that will be stored in an electronic file. In subsequent years, license buyers only will need to enter changes in the types of licenses or stamps wanted or update their personal information.

“This will not only speed up the license buying process, but it also will remove the burden of having to worry about identify theft,” Roe said. “Once someone purchases a license through point-of-sale, we will no longer ask them for their Social Security Number or Hunter-Trapper Education certification, because that data will already be part of the database. Senior lifetime license holders will no longer need to carry the lifetime license ID cards with them.”

Roe noted that the new licenses will be printed on sturdy, weather-resistant yellow material. The harvest tags, which are required for all big game, have perforated holes in them to make it easier to attach the tag to the animal. Additionally, all personal information on the harvest tags will be completed, so all the hunter will need to do is enter the time, date and place of harvest.

“Point-of-sale will make license buying easier for our customers, issuing agents and the Game Commission, and will – for the first time in our history – provide the agency with a database of its license buyers that will enable us to better communicate with them,” Roe said.

Issuing agents stand to benefit from the system, as the new system will audit the books for them while they work.

“This will greatly reduce the need for issuing agents to tie up so much of their money in bonds to secure the paper licenses they need to serve their customers,” Roe said. “The amount of bonds will, most likely, be decreased in the future, which will reduce the financial burden on issuing agents.”

Lastly, Roe said that the Game Commission will benefit by fulfilling the agency’s goal of making its programs more user-friendly.

“We will finally, after all of these years, have a computer database of all of our license buyers,” Roe said. “Such a database will enable the agency to conduct more surveys of our license buyers on a regular basis. We will no longer need to pay to data-enter the names, addresses and telephone numbers of license buyers from license sale books, which will reduce the costs associated with conducting surveys of our hunters and trappers.

“And, once the point-of-sale system is fully in place, the Game Commission will be able to begin to significantly reduce our harvest reporting costs by enabling hunters who harvest a deer or turkey to report those harvests online, as we will have the database necessary to validate such report submissions.”

For those without internet access, Roe noted that paper harvest report cards will be included with the 2009-10 Digest, which all license buyers receive. Additionally, the agency is continuing to pursue a toll-free telephone harvest reporting system, but that may not be in place for the 2009-10 license year.

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