AUGUSTA – Maine House lawmakers approved a constitutional amendment to direct a percentage of Maine sales tax to directly fund the Departments of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and Marine Resources during an afternoon vote today.

The vote reversed course from two previous House attempts that had failed to reach the 2/3s threshold of all present lawmakers required for constitutional amendments. House lawmakers voted 99 to 47 in the late afternoon to approve L.D. 563. Earlier in the day, the same lawmakers voted 94 to 53, falling short of approval. Last week, a similar vote failed 92 to 54.

Supporters of the measure said Maine IFW is underfunded and needs the dedicated resources to protect the state’s recreational industries. Opponents said constitutionally earmarking sales tax revenue is bad public policy and members of the Appropriations Committee should retain as much flexibility in composing the biennial budget as possible.

The legislation would direct 1.2 percent of all sales tax to the two departments, with 90 percent of that total directed toward IFW and 10 percent going toward marine resources.

The Senate has also approved the bill by a 2/3s margin in an initial vote, but another will be scheduled. As a constitutional amendment, the legislation must also be approved in a statewide vote before becoming law.