When MnUSA adopted its legislative agenda for the 2014 session, I predicted that we would have a session with good accomplishments but at least one of our goals would not be achieved in one legislative session and that it would take several years to accomplish. I was wrong.
We all should be proud of the work we did this year. Clubs introduced local legislators and legislative leaders to our sport, taking them out on rides. On a Sunday morning so cold that even the hardiest Minnesotans wish for summer, the Carver County Sno-Runners hosted a ride for House Majority Leader Erin Murphy which included a taking her out in a groomer. Majority Leader Murphy (i) did not succumb to frostbite or hypothermia and (ii), by all reports, had a great time and made new friends. Throughout the State, other clubs introduced their elected officials to snowmobiling.
The 2014 MnUSA legislative reception was well attended by both snowmobilers and their legislators. The evening was dedicated to fun, food and building relationships. A number of legislators thanked MnUSA for the opportunity to spend time in a relaxed setting with their constituents. We had three specific priorities for bill enactments:
Prohibit Tampering with Odometers on Recreational Vehicles. This legislation, a MnUSA priority, originated with a MnUSA club asking its legislators for help when a member was sold a snowmobile with significantly more miles on the engine than shown on the odometer. Rep. Dan Schoen and Sen. Katie Sieben introduced and guided legislation though the process. David Dill incorporated the language into the Environmental Omnibus Policy, which was signed by the Governor.
·New Definition of a Snowmobile. Under the old law, ATVs and motorcycles equipped with add-on after-market parts could legally qualify as a snowmobile. The result was a problematic and unsafe situation where these vehicles could legally operate on snowmobile trails. Working with the support of the DNR, MnUSA added language to the Environmental Policy bill redefining a snowmobile. This new definition precludes equipment not originally manufactured as snowmobile from legally operating on our trails.
Sec. 8. Minnesota Statutes 2012, section 84.81, subdivision 3, is amended to read:
Subd. 3. Snowmobile. "Snowmobile" means a self-propelled vehicle originally manufactured and designed for travel on snow or ice steered by skis or runners. Snowmobile does not include the following vehicles equipped with aftermarket ski and track configurations:
(1) an all-terrain vehicle defined in section 84.92;
(2) an off-highway motorcycle defined in section 84.787;
(3) an off-road vehicle defined in section 84.797;
(4) a mini truck defined in section 169.011;
(5) a utility task vehicle described in section 169.045; or
(6) any other vehicle being operated off road.
·No Sales Tax on Groomers and Groomer Equipment. We began this effort by seeking out strong, smart legislators for our bill. In the House of Representatives, Rep. Greg Davids was our chief author and Reps. Anzelc, Dill, Melin and Metsa agreed to be co authors. In the Senate, Sen. Viki Jensen agreed to be our chief author and Sen. Tom Saxhaug was our co-author. The bill was heard in both the House Tax Committee and the Senate Tax Reform Division chaired by Sen. Ann Rest. In addition to strong testimony by both Rep. Davids and Sen. Jensen, MnUSA member Kim Werkmeister provided excellent testimony in both committees. Thank you Kim. We were well received in both committees. In particular, Senator Ann Rest should be thanked for her thoughtful leadership as Chair of the Division. She had obviously done her homework and was well versed in the issue. Our language was not incorporated into the House Tax Bill but Senator Rest and Tax Chair Rod Skoe were instrumental in getting our language into the Senate Tax Bill. In Conference Committee, Rep. Davids made the motion that put the language in the bill that eventually was signed by Governor Dayton and is codified as Chapter 308. The language enacted into law reads as follows:
Subd. 19. Nonprofit snowmobile clubs; machinery and equipment. Sales of
tangible personal property to a nonprofit snowmobile club that is used primarily and directly for the grooming of state or grant-in-aid snowmobile trails are exempt. The exemption applies to grooming machines, attachments, other associated accessories, and repair parts. A nonprofit snowmobile club is eligible for the exemption under this subdivision if it received, in the current year or in the previous three-year period, a state grant-in-aid maintenance and grooming grant administered by the Department of Natural Resources by applying for the grant with a local unit of government sponsor.
EFFECTIVE DATE.This section is effective for sales and purchases made after June 30, 2014
(NOTE: The Certificate of Exemption form to provide to the supplier can be found at http://www.revenue.state.mn.us/Forms_and_Instructions/st3.pdf )
All in all, MnUSA had an outstanding year at the legislature. Make sure that you thank your elected officials. Also, use these successes in recruiting new members. We have a good story to tell.