ATVAM Legislative Update
(Good news for Minnesota's ATV clubs & trails)
Very important ATV-related bills were passed by the Legislature this Session. Some of them started as resolutions at last December's ATVAM Legislative Summit. If you were there, you will recall them. If not, we hope you will plan on attending the Summit next winter, to help us advance the remaining resolutions and write new ones. Together with Ray Bohn, the dedicated ATVAM board and many ATVAM clubs are working hard to create a positive future for ATV recreation in Minnesota. Here is Ray's Legislative Update:
By Ray Bohn, ATVAM Lobbyist
The final bonding bill included the bonding provision from last year's bill that will provide
$1 million to Lake County for the Prospector Loop ATV Trail System. This $1 million in bonding funds were matched by a $1 million appropriation from the three motorized accounts in FY17. These funds are available for another year so the Prospector Trail construction should be well under way this season. The bonding bill passed with a very strong vote in both bodies.
SF414 Sen. Bakk/HF 690 Rep. Ecklund legislation was introduced to provide $150,000 from the ATV account for the alignment, wetland delineation, engineering, and completion of master plan for the Voyageur trail. This legislation passed as part of SF844 (Environment Finance & Policy Bill). In addition, another $50,000 was amended into the Finance bill from Sen. Tomassoni for agrant to the city of Virginia to assist the Quad City ATV Club to plan, design, engineer, and permit an ATV trail from Virginia to the Iron Range OHV Recreation Area. Rep. Ecklund also pursued this financing in the final legislation and we were able to pass this funding. This funding will come out of the ATV Account.
Rep. Heintzeman (HF1767) and Sen. Eichorn (SF1597) introduced policy legislation sponsoring our off-highway motorcycle (OHM) and ATV youth training provisions passed in SF844 to allow youth riders 6-10 years of age to take the training course offered through DNR. Parents must be present during training for this age group. Another policy provision passed in this legislation addressed boundary trails. It provides that an OHM out of state rider can ride a Minnesota boundary trail without Minnesota registration if it is registered in another state or country providing equal reciprocal registration or licensing exemptions for registrants of this state.
In addition, Polaris sponsored legislation increasing the legal riding size for kids 10 years of age but under 12 may operate an ATV with engine capacity up to 110cc for straddle type machines, and 170cc for side by side machines. They must, however, fit both type machines.
One major issue that ATVAM supported and was passed in the final agreement of the Environment Finance & Policy Bill was the fee increase. ATVAM supported the fee increase from the present $45 to $60 for a 3-year registration, an increase of $5 per year. We have not had an increase in over a decade, and we are at the point in our trail development where we have great opportunities to finally be able to truly build a trail system in Minnesota. That will require funding from us in partnership with the State to accomplish our vision for the future for trails development. This fee increase will bring in an additional $650,000 in FY18 (effective Jan 1, 2018), and $1.3 million in FY19 and thereafter. These additional funds will be instrumental in the development of a motorized trail system many have been working for over the past years. The legislation also increased the ATV non-resident pass fee from $20 to $40 per year.
Another budget issue is co-mingling our enforcement dollars with other OHV and Natural Resources Fund accounts to allow the Enforcement Division more flexibility in dealing with their cash flow. While sympathetic to the DNR's budget problems, we are very concerned about maintaining the level of transparency needed to properly monitor our accounts. This provision did not pass.
Our normal funding for our Grant-In-Aid (GIA) Program, Trail Ambassador Program, DNR Enforcement, Parks & Trails funding, and the County Enforcement Program all were part of the final Finance bill as well.
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