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Dave S

Legislative Updates

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ATVAM

June 2009

2009 OHV Legislative Session Final Update

The 2009 Legislative Session was a fast and furious one for OHV legislation. There were numerous bills introduced that would affect OHVing in Minnesota both for the positive and the negative.

NEW LAWS

ATV Violation and Confiscation for Multiple Reckless Wetland Violations

This new law created a new violation for wetland violations for recklessly damaging a wetland. This law was created to target the "worst of the worst" riders that intentionally damage wetlands and give all OHV riders a bad name. On the first offense the violator will be charged with a gross misdemeanor and lose their privilege to ride for a year. On a second offense the violator will be charged with a gross misdemeanor and have their OHV confiscated. You also lose your privilege to ride for a year if you're riding in a Wildlife Management Area, State Park, or a Scientific Natural Area.

This bill was passed with the work of Senator Satveer Chaudhary; the Chair of the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee.

Non-Resident Trail Pass

Each ATV rider (not OHM) from outside of MN without a MN registration will be required to purchase an annual non-resident trail pass for $20. These can be purchased at the DNR Electronic Licensing systems located around the state. This also ends reciprocity with other states that have registration. So, no longer will a machine registered to ride in WI be able to ride in MN without this trail pass.

Rep. Tom Hackbarth introduced the original bill and worked hard to get it included in the final Omnibus Environment Funding bill.

Youthful Operation Technical Change

It was brought to our attention that an adult supervising a child on an OHM must be riding on an OHM while supervising. The law was changed to delete that language and leave it broad so that now the adult can supervise however they are able, as long as they are still supervising.

Rep. Tom Hackbarth introduced this provision as an amendment to pending legislation. Also included in the provision was an exemption for a special use permit. Rep. David Dill and Rep. Kent Eken worked hard to make sure this was included in the final Game and Fish Bill.

Exemption for "Environmentally Sensitive Areas" and road riding

When riding through a ditch you are now allowed to come up onto the roadway to avoid an environmentally sensitive area such as deep standing water, cattails or other things that block your path.

Sen. Satveer Chaudhary included this language in the Environment Policy Bill and Rep. David Dill worked hard in the house to help it get passed for final approval.

Northshore Trail Name Change

The Northshore Snowmobile Trail was renamed to the CJ Ramstad/Northshore Trail to honor CJ Ramstad.

Rep. David Dill was a close friend of CJ Ramstad and he and Sen. Bakk worked hard to honor CJ and his dedication to outdoor recreation by renaming this trail after him.

All Base funding remained intact -- some notables

Same level funding for ATV Grant-in-aid trails

Same level funding for OHMC grant-in-aid trails

Same level funding for Ambassador's Program

ATV Definition Change

Change in definition of an ATV to increase engine size from 800cc's to 960cc's. This was not an ATVAM action item, but was worked on by the manufacturers.

Mini-Trucks Defined in Statute

A constant problem over the last few years is how the new mini-trucks are supposed to be registered. Now, there is a definition in statute that clearly defines these vehicles, and will exclude them from OHV trails.

Sen. Skogen and Rep. Brita Sailer were very helpful in making sure these vehicles were adequately defined and didn't allow these heavier vehicles on our trails. The mini-trucks are heavier than ATV's and OHM's and would harm the integrity of our trails and create numerous problems.

New Constitutionally Dedicated Funding

The Parks and Trails Fund in the new constitutionally dedicated funding includes a few provisions that could impact OHV use throughout the state in the future.

$250,000 was appropriated to create a 25 year long term plan for Minnesota's Parks and Trails

The Commissioner of DNR must create a 10 year states parks and trails strategic plan considering traditional funding sources and the new constitutional monies.

$27,781,000 was appropriated over the next biennium in order to connect people to the outdoors by providing access, education and producing a new parks and trails map that integrates state parks, recreation areas, forest campgrounds, trails, and regional parks and trail authorities, as well as various other things.

Rep. Hackbarth amended the House version of the Parks and trails funding on the floor to include additional funding for snowmobile and ATV trails. Unfortunately, this provision was eliminated in the final bill.

Bills or issues that were introduced and were not passed into law:

Traditional Forests - closing 50% of each state forest for non-motorized use.

This bill was never heard and remains in the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Policy Committee

ATV open bottle restriction - No open alcoholic containers in possession while operating an ATV on state trails. This bill was never heard in either body. It remains in the Environment and Natural Resources Policy Committees in both bodies.

Natural Resources Fund Oversight Committee - An oversight committee set up with representatives of each of the accounts under the natural resources fund to oversee DNR expenditures from these various accounts. Rep. Hackbarth introduced this bill in the house and it never received a hearing. We are negotiating with DNR presently to establish a better oversight process for our funds.

OHV Trespass changes - HF1103 is a bill that changes the trespass law in chapter 84 and puts the burden on each landowner to post what vehicles are allowed to ride on their property. This would create havoc in greater Minnesota.

This bill was scheduled to be heard on Wednesday, March 4th but was pulled at the last minute the night before committee.

Allowing ATV's to be used on County Roads -- This mandates that the counties allow ATV use on their County Roads, unless they hold a hearing and decide not too allow ATV use on their roads. Currently the law is the other way around and many ATV activists are having a hard time getting their counties to hold the necessary hearings and adopt an ordinance allowing ATV's on the roadways.

ATVAM will continue to work internally and with Rep. Tony Cornish to deal with this important and contentious issue.

Changing law for ATV's and certain disabled users provisions

The first part is a lifetime disabled permit without a fee for anyone who has a permanent disability. The second part then gives the Commissioner of DNR the authority to designate certain paved bicycle trails as suitable for adjacent use by these specially permitted ATV's. The third part clarifies the use of hunters with this new ATV disability permit to shoot from their machines. It also repeals the language that mandates that guns used by these permit holders be stored in a case. The final part of the bill allows all of the big game restrictions that are lifted for disabled ATV users who hold this permit to also be exempt from the same restrictions when hunting small game.

Rep. Tom Anzelc worked hard to get this bill included in the House Game and Fish Bill. It met with many objections from The Department of Natural Resources and was eventually removed from the Game and Fish Bill. These issues will come up in the future and ATVAM will remain engaged.

Bear Baiting -- allows a bear baiter to use their ATV for bear baiting in August and September. Rep. David Dill worked very hard to get this passed but met many objections in the Senate and from The Department of Natural Resources.

Repeal "Managed" classification for trails - Bill would end the "Managed" classification for forests in Minnesota. This would drastically increase the costs of trail maintenance and administration in the DNR. It would also end the "North of Hwy. 2" provision that is so important to access in Northern MN.

Rep. John Persell introduced this bill, however in subsequent conversations he indicated that the bill did not do what he was intending. His ultimate goal was to create a system with clear signage around the state. This bill was never heard but does remain in the House Environment and Natural Resources Committee.

Special Permit Liability Insurance Cap

With the collapse of the 35W bridge the states liability limits were increased from $1 million to $1.2 and then $1.5 and now $2 million. When OHV groups try to obtain insurance for a special use permit they must now cover $2 million dollars which in most cases puts the cost of insurance out of reach for the event organizers. There was an amendment drafted but it ran into trouble in the Senate Finance Committee. This is an issue that more groups than just OHVS are having problems with. OHVers need to get together and organize these groups to come back with a concrete proposal next year that we can work together on to pass.

SUMMARY

Passed Bills

ATV Violation and Confiscation for Multiple Reckless Wetland Violations

Creates new penalties for reckless wetland violations

Annual Non-Resident Trail Pass

$20 trail pass for non-residents to be purchased annualy

Youthful Operation Technical Change for OHM

Expands the ways that OHM users can supervise children while they are using their OHM's

Exemption for "Environmentally Sensitive Areas" and riding on the road

Allows a rider to exit the ditch and enter the roadway in order to go around environmentally sensitive areas.

Northshore Trail Name Change to CJ Ramstad Northshore Trail

Changed to honor CJ Ramstad

All Base funding remained intact

ATV Definition Change

Increased allowable engine size from 800 to 960cc's

Mini-Trucks Defined in Statute

Excludes mini-trucks from using OHM or ATV trails

New Constitutionally Dedicated Funding

Create a framework for a plan for the new dedicated funds for the state's parks and trails system.

Please extend your thanks to the legislators listed above who have worked so hard to keep us on our trails!!

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