Requires a portion of meals and room tax revenue to be credited to the Fish and Game search and rescue fund.
Hiker Rescue Funding
In 2008 the state passed a negligent hiker law, giving the state the power to bill lost or injured hikers for the cost of their rescue mission if they were found to have been negligent.
SB 128 created a study committee in 2011 to determine who should pay when state authorities carry out search and rescue operations for lost or injured hikers. The committee recommended several ways to raise funds for search and rescue, including creating a Hike Safe Card, which, for a fee, would guarantee that a hiker would not be billed for rescue. This option was implemented in 2014.
"Hike Safe Cards" can now be purchased by hikers for $25, indemnifying them against the costs of rescue operations on their behalf regardless of whether they are deemed negligent. Negligent hikers that choose not to buy Hike Safe Cards may still be billed for the cost of rescue.
PROS & CONS
"New Hampshire should continue the Hike Safe Card program."
- Because recouping costs from negligent hikers is difficult, Hike Safe Cards provide necessary additional funding.
- Hikers are more likely than others to call for help, so the Hike Safe Cards are a way for them to make a fair contribution to the search and rescue fund (license fees assessed to hunters, fishermen, and snowmobilers are the primary source of revenue for the search and rescue fund).
"New Hampshire should eliminate the Hike Safe Card program."
- Rescues are a public service and hikers should not have to bear the cost .
- The system of charging hikers for a card will cost money to implement while still not providing enough revenue to manage rescue costs.
Establishes an annual $10 registration fee for canoes and kayaks. $3.50 of every fee would go to the search and rescue fund and $3.50 would go to the lake restoration and preservation fund, and $3 would pay for processing. The Senate amended the bill to instead create a commission to study creating a Boat Safe Card, which like the Hike Safe Card, would protect boaters from being billed for search and rescue.
Requires the state to reimburse towns which conduct search and rescue missions, using money from the Search and Rescue Fund.
Requires $1 from the rental of each canoe, kayak, ski craft, or watercraft to go to the fish and game search and rescue fund.
Clarifies that the Hike Safe Card does not protect a hiker who is reckless (rather than negligent) or under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Repeals the $1 fee associated with the registration of OHRVs, snowmobiles, and boats, which is credited to the search and rescue fund, and appropriates $200,000 from the general fund for search and rescue.
Adds individuals under a family guardianship to the definition of family for the Hike Safe Card.
Establishes the Hike Safe Card, a $25 card that insures a hiker against the cost of a rescue, even if the hiker is negligent. This bill also establishes a committee to study sustainable funding options for the Fish and Game Department.
Creates a committee to study who should pay for search and rescue operations.
Should hikers contribute to the search and rescue fund, whether or not they are negligent?
Gov. Sununu's 2020-2021 budget proposal called for the Fish and Game Department get an additional $2 million from the state's general fund, which could contribute toward the shortfall in the search and rescue fund. There are no other bills related to search and rescue funding being considered by the Legislature this year.
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