MnUSA LEGISLATIVE UPDATE
By Doug Franzen, MnUSA Lobbyist
Our annual Legislative Reception was March10. Over the years, we have had many, many legislators from both parties come to meet their snowmobile constituents (you).If you attended the reception, thank you.If you were unable to attend, you should still contact your legislators.We have important issues and, as you know, you are the most effective lobbyists for snowmobiling.Your legislators want to hear what you have to say.If you are shy like me, just talk about your club and thank your legislators for their support of our issues.Better yet, invite them to join you on a ride.The future of our sport depends on our members so please communicate with your legislators.
As of this writing, the legislature has been in session for only two weeks.Yet, the timeframe they have to work within is so compressed that, other than tax, bonding and, perhaps supplemental appropriations, all bills must pass through committee and be sent the full House or Senate floor by March 20th.That’s less than 10 days from the time you will be reading this.To add to the pressure, there is a huge backup in getting bills ready for introduction.It is estimated that over 5000 bills will have been introduced by the end of the biennium in May.Very few will actually pass.Our challenge is to have our snowmobiling bills included in the very few that pass. The MnUSA legislative agenda can be found on our website.Also, hard copy was available at the Legislative Reception.As a refresher:
- - Sales Tax Exemption for building materials and supplies purchased by non-profit clubs to construct, reconstruct, or maintain or improve state or grant-in-aid snowmobile trails.The House of Representatives has included this provision in the last two tax bills but has been held up in the Senate.
- - Increased Penalties for Trespass.Our bill increased the fines for snowmobile and ATV trespass on private land from $50 for a first offense to $250 for a first offense.Civil penalties for second and third offenses are increased to $500 and $1,000 respectively.
- - Replace the requirement for registration numbers on a snowmobile with a larger registration sticker.
- - Protect the dedicated account, the unrefunded gas tax and continued use of public land.
In addition to our proactive agenda, we continue to work on legislation impacting our sport.On February 25, the House Environmental Policy committee sent legislation to the floor of the House.The legislation which removes the registration requirement for transporting a snowmobile (HF 3363) is authored by Rep. Julie Sandstede (Hibbing) and supported by DNR enforcement.
A new development is the desire of the Grand Portage tribe to have approximately 100 miles of trail on their land added to the grant-in-aid system.MnUSA opposes this initiative because it reduces the funds available for existing grants.
The legislature is fast paced, and bills and amendments are considered quickly and on short notice. MnUSA remains vigilant to ensure that no bills harmful to our sport are enacted by the legislature.