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Duck stamp price increase readied for Senate vote

The price of duck stamps could go up under legislation reported in the Senate. The Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works officially reported the Migratory Bird Habitat Investment & Enhancement Act (S. 1865). The bill has been placed on the Senate Legislative Calendar for a vote under general orders as Calendar No. 466.

The report first became available online on the Senate website on Saturday, July 19. No Senate vote has yet been scheduled. The committee approved the bill in February but didn't report it until last week. Senators introduced the bill last December. The previous Congress failed to clear similar legislation.

The bill would allow the U.S. Department of the Interior (DoI) to increase the price of duck stamps to up to $25 for the next five years and up to $30 for the five subsequent years. The five-year periods start in 2014 but the bill couldn't be implemented until near the end of this year in any event. The $15 price has not increased since 1991. Almost all the money goes to buy or lease wetlands for protection of waterfowl. DoI would have to consult with the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission before increasing the price.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) determined that the bill will not cost the federal government a significant amount to administer. In fact, CBO says the bill would probably reduce the federal deficit by almost $1 million a year because of the increased revenue the government would collect. Nor would the bill impose any burdens on the private sector, except to increase fees.

CBO estimates collecting an additional $13 million a year with a $25 stamp, and $22 million a year with a $30 stamp. The estimate factors in the fact that historically, when the price rose, the number of stamps sold decreased. Finally, the bill includes a provision allowing DoI to waive requirements on individuals buying stamps if it determines the effect on revenues would be “minimal.”

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