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Dave S

Legislative Updates

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As the first legislative deadline looms upon us and comes on March 27, there is frantic activity to get bill heard in committee. Last week saw a flurry of OHV related activity. The following activity occurred in the last few weeks:

HF487 (Hackbarth) The non-resident ATV trail pass bill was heard in the Environment Policy committee chaired by Rep. Kent Eken and was given a good discussion and passed with overwhelming support to the Environment Finance Committee.

HF924 (Hackbarth) The bill that changes the Northshore Snowmobile trail name to the C.J. Ramstad Memorial Trail. The DNR added language to change the name of a segment of the Willard Munger Trail back to its original name of the MN-WI Boundary Trail. The trail is currently multi-purpose with the vast majority of the trail use for snowmobiles. This bill was heard in the Environment Policy Committee and passed. SF909 (Bakk) was heard in the Senate Environment Policy Committee and passed and sent to the Finance Committee.

HF376 (Dill) is a snowmobile trail bill that Rep. David Dill (DFL-Crane Lake) added the C.J. Ramstad Trail name change and a technical OHM amendment onto and was heard in the House Environment Policy Committee and passed onto the floor. Sen. Bakk is carrying the companion bill in the Senate.

SF1644 (Chaudhary) is a bill that came out of discussions on OHV Seizure for the most egregious offenders. This bill creates a new offense for recklessly damaging a wetland and is a gross misdemeanor. The bill was heard and amended so that seizure will take place after a conviction of the second offense. The bill also removes ones privilege to ride if convicted of a misdemeanor in a wetland for one year. The bill was passed and sent to the Judiciary Committee. ATVAM and ARMCA were included in the discussions on this bill, and although the bill is a work in progress ATVAM and ARMCA are supportive of removing these offenders from the forests. We will continue to work on this as it advances through the legislative process. The bill also provides an exemption for riding on the roadway to go around environmentally sensitive areas (i.e. cat tails or standing water).

HF1103 (Paymar) was the anti-OHV trespass bill that put the burden on the landowner to post their land open to different forms of motorized recreation. The bill was scheduled to be heard but was pulled off the agenda late the night before the scheduled hearing. We are told they are redrafting and will drop another bill in. We did have the votes on the Civil Justice Committee to kill this bill thanks to the help of Rep. Dave Olin and Rep. Gail Kulick Jackson.

HF1238 (Dill) is the omnibus Game and Fish bill and includes a provision that gives lifetime registrations to people with a defined permanent disability.

HF1912 was introduced and allows the commissioner to suspend the registration for someone who paid by check and the check bounced. The current bill includes a provision that allows the County Registrar to also void the registration, but we disagree with this and think that the Commissioner should be the only one with that authority.

March 5th Update

The 2009 Minnesota Legislative Session has been drudging along since January. With the state and country in such economic turmoil we have seen a lot of things being talked about, but not much happening. This means that the end of March and April are going to be extremely busy months at the Capitol.

I want to thank all the participants in the ATVAM Day at the Capitol on Tuesday, March 3rd. We saw double the people who registered show up and take part in this crucial time to get our message out to law makers.

There have been numerous bills related to ATV use that we are currently watching at the Capitol. I will go through each one and give a brief summation of what the bill does, and ATVAMs position on each bill.

House Files:

HF132 - Authored by Rep. Tony Cornish (R-Good Thunder)

HF132 allows ATV operation 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. Currently there are five counties in MN that allow ATV's on their roadways. While this appears to be a good idea, there are questions about how it could affect our unrefunded gas tax collections. More work needs to be done on this legislation before it is ready for action.

l HF150/SF221 - Authored by Rep. Tom Anzelc (DFL-Balsam Twsp) and Sen. Tom Saxhaug (DFL-Grand Rapids)

HF150/SF221 is a bill that changes All-terrain vehicle use allowed by the disabled along certain trails, and hunting provisions for disabled hunters. The bill has four parts. 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 disablility 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. ATVAM is neutral on this bill. HF150 is being heard on March 9, 2009 in the Game Fish and Forestry Division chaired by Rep. David Dill.

HF487/SF1064 - Authored by Rep. Tom Hackbarth (R-Cedar) and Sen. Tom Saxhaug (DFL-Grand Rapids)

HF487 is the bill that creates the non-resident ATV trail pass. This trail pass will be an annual pass sold to non-Minnesota residents for $20. It will be sold through DNR's new ELS system that will make it widely available to tourists. This idea came from ATVAM members whose families for friends were visiting from a state that does not register ATV's and would get to MN after the Counties offices had closed so they were forced to ride through the weekend illegally. This pass would also end MN's reciprocity with states that currently register ATV's. Current law states that as long as you are registered in ANY state that you can ride on MN trails. WI does not have the same reciprocity with MN and forces our ATV users to buy their $35 annual trail access pass. This is supported by ATVAM and is an ATVAM initiative.

HF658 - Authored by Rep. Tom Hackbarth (R-Cedar)

HF658 creates a Natural Resource Fund Citizen Oversight Committee. Currently, there is no citizen oversight committee for the DNR Natural Resources fund like there is with the Game and Fish Fund. After recent debacles with DNR money management Rep. Hackbarth proposed a citizen oversight committee that is tasked with overseeing the accounts included in the Natural Resources fund. The following accounts are included, and each has a representative under HF658: ATV, Snowmobiles, OHV, OHM, Water Rec (Boats), Cross-Country Ski, and the Horse Trail Pass. This will give added oversight to the DNR's management of these accounts. ATVAM supports the legislation.

HF924/SF909 - Authored by Rep. Tom Hackbarth (R-Cedar) and Sen. Tom Bakk (DFL-Cook)

HF924/SF909 renames the North Shore Snowmobile trail the C.J. Ramstad Memorial trail. This is to honor C.J. Ramstad, who died tragically with his son in an automobile accident in 2007. ATVAM supports the legislation.

HF1102/SF1067 - Authored by Rep. Paymar (DFL-St. Paul) and Sen. Moua (DFL-St. Paul)

HF1102 is a bill that makes it illegal to operate an ATV with an open container of alcohol on state trails. The bill continues to exempt snowmobiles and boats. ATVAM opposes this bill because we believe that all recreational vehicles should be treated equally by the law.

HF1103/SF1066 - Authored by Rep. Paymar (DFL-St. Paul) and Sen. Moua (DFL-St. Paul)

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. We were told that the bill is going to be worked on and possibly redrafted. ATVAM does not support this legislation.

HF1138 - Authored by Rep. David Dill (DFL-Crane Lake)

HF1138 allows a bear baiter to use their ATV for bear baiting in August and September. This bill is scheduled to be heard on March 9th in Rep. Dill's Game, Fish and Forestry Division. ATVAM has no position on this bill at this time.

HF1285/SF1174 - Authored by Rep. Persell (DFL-Bemidji) and Sen. Dibble (DFL-Mpls)

HF1285/SF1174 is a bill that ends 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. ATVAM opposes this bill.

SF1173 - Authored by Sen. Dibble (DFL-Mpls)

SF1173 is a bill that mandates "Traditional Forest Areas" in which at least 50% of each state forest must be set aside for non-motorized recreation. ATVAM opposes this bill.

We will all need to work hard the next several months to ensure that our access to ride is not curtailed or eliminated in some cases. Audubon MN is leading the charge this year with their anti-access legislation.

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If the Omnibus Game and Fish bill finally gets passed this evening, there is a provision within that changes the maximum engine size from 800cc to 960cc to be classified as an ATV.

Subd. 8. All-terrain vehicle or vehicle. "All-terrain vehicle" or "vehicle" means a motorized flotation-tired vehicle of not less than three low pressure tires, but not more than six tires, that is limited in engine displacement of less than 960 cubic centimeters and includes a class 1 all-terrain vehicle and class 2 all-terrain vehicle.

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If the Omnibus Game and Fish bill finally gets passed this evening, there is a provision within that changes the maximum engine size from 800cc to 960cc to be classified as an ATV.

Subd. 8. All-terrain vehicle or vehicle. "All-terrain vehicle" or "vehicle" means a motorized flotation-tired vehicle of not less than three low pressure tires, but not more than six tires, that is limited in engine displacement of less than 960 cubic centimeters and includes a class 1 all-terrain vehicle and class 2 all-terrain vehicle.

Good information. Let us know what you find out.

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It was passed and I assume the Gov will sign or has signed the bill. I don't know when this goes into effect though.

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T-Paw signed the bill to have stiffer penalties for ATV riders who damage wetlands.

Currently it is a Misdemeanor for a wetlands violation. This will now become a Gross Misdemeanor with fines up to $3000.

For second violations, fines, forfeiture of the ATV and riding privileges will be lost for a year.

All I can say is it's about time we put the hurt on the people who are out there hurting our sport.

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