GAME COMMISSION SUPPORTS FEDERAL AND STATE EFFORTS TO REMOVE SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER REQUIREMENT FOR LICENSE BUYERS
HARRISBURG - Pennsylvania Game Commission Executive Director Carl G. Roe today offered his praise and support for two recent efforts to remove the current federal and state requirement that the agency collect Social Security Numbers from hunting and furtaker license buyers.
"We have heard from hundreds, if not thousands, of hunters and trappers who told us that they refused to purchase a license during the 2005-06 license year based solely on the fact that they were required to provide their Social Security Number when purchasing a license," Roe said. "While no one argues with the objectives of this effort, we all certainly believe that there are better ways to accomplish this goal."
On Feb. 8, the state House of Representatives unanimously approved House Resolution 461, sponsored by House Game and Fisheries Committee Chairman Bruce Smith (R-York) and supported by the Game Commission. HR 461 urges the President and Congress of the United States to revise the requirement that applicants for hunting and fishing licenses provide their Social Security numbers; and asks the Unites States Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families to grant an exception to the state Department of Public Welfare for the current requirement that license buyers provide their Social Security numbers.
"We are pleased that state legislators are supporting federal efforts to relieve the Game Commission from being placed in the undesirable position of having our issuing agents ask license buyers for such personal information," Roe said. "The Game Commission never wanted to be placed in this position just as much as our license buyers don't want to provide this sensitive information."
On Feb. 10, U.S. Senator Rick Santorum appeared at the Eastern Outdoors and Sports Show to outline his introduction of Senate Bill 2249, the Sportsmen's Privacy Protection Act, that would repeal the federal mandate that requires the Game Commission to collect Social Security numbers from license buyers.
"We firmly believe that enactment of Sen. Santorum's legislation will resolve this issue once and for all," Roe said. "We urge all U.S. Senators and U.S. Representatives to support this measure and we would ask that President Bush promptly sign it into law once it reaches his desk."
On Oct. 4, the Board of Game Commissioners unanimously approved a resolution, offered by Game Commissioner Gregory Isabella, that directs the Game Commission staff to continue working to remove the federal and state requirements that the agency demand Social Security Numbers from license buyers.
There are three components to Isabella's resolution. First, agency staff is asked to continue to seek a waiver from the Department of Public Welfare excusing the agency from the need to collect Social Security Numbers from license buyers until the agency implements an electronic license sale system, commonly referred to as "point-of-sale."
Second, the Game Commission's staff is asked to continue to pursue any initiative to have the U.S. Congress and state General Assembly enact legislation to remove the Game Commission from being legislatively-mandated to collect Social Security Numbers.
And, third, the Game Commission staff is directed to give license buyers' Social Security Numbers the highest degree of security and confidentiality, and purge the information from license records as soon as legally possible.
"It must be clearly understood that collecting Social Security Numbers from our license buyers was not something the Game Commission wanted to do or asked to be responsible for," Isabella emphasized. "As an agency, we must continue to pursue all means possible to be removed from this requirement."
On July 29, former Game Commission Executive Director Vern Ross sent a letter to Pennsylvania's U.S. Congressional delegation, including Sen. Santorum, urging reconsideration of the federal requirement that state's collect Social Security numbers from our license buyers.