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January 2013

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Happy New Year from WOHVA, your Washington Off Highway Vehicle Alliance! With recent visions of sugar plums, new riding gear, and that hot helmet cam still floating through your heads we're here to once again keep you connected. Speaking of connected, you’ll find below an update on our new Associate Membership category, our gift to all the clubs and businesses  ... and yes it’s FREE. And with the Legislature coming back after the holidays (guard your wallets ... and NOVA funds!) we'll also look back at the 2012 legislation and look forward to our 2013 agenda. And for those who’ve been wondering about NOVA funds, we’ll tell you about the lump of coal we just received as a present from our government. So grab what's left of your eggnog and have a seat. We thought we might not even have to write this ... but, since the world didn't end, read on!

Associate Members – WOHVA strengthens connections

Ever wonder why WOHVA is an Alliance ... and not an Association? It goes back to our founders. They had the wisdom to NOT create another entity to compete for membership with your club or your vehicle association (PNW4WDA, WA ATV Assoc/EW ATV Assoc, NMA, etc.). Instead, WOHVA was founded as an alliance to join groups together; to multiply the political and land use voices of the existing 4x4, ATV, and dirt bike organizations to create a stronger voice. And that's what we've been working to do since we began in 2006. While we DO have memberships for individuals (and likely ALWAYS will), our strength comes from our members who are clubs, associations, and to be sure, businesses. As we've begun to improve our communications, we've discovered that we're not reaching enough of our represented members ... and that's why we've created a new Associate Member category.

Associate members belong to WOHVA because they ALREADY belong to a WOHVA club, organization, or business member. They belong but pay no additional membership fee. This isn't about sneaking a fee increase past you ... it's about improving communications.

The benefit to WOHVA is the ability to KNOW whom we represent and to be able to communicate directly and quickly with them. We've found many instances where it's been difficult for clubs to get our communications out to their members, or where we've not heard back clearly what members have to say.

And Associate members maintain the right to limit communications if they so chose. That's why we put UNSUBSCRIBE directions at the bottom of each newsletter. It's not just the law ... it makes sense. We want to control OUR incoming mail ... and so do you. We plan to be very targeted with our communications, just as we have in the past. WE believe we'll EARN your trust as Associate members ... and that you’ll stay subscribed.

To enable us to add Associate members we're developing a new website and we'll be working with your club secretaries and leadership. We believe there's a simple way to do this. We also believe that it's SO important that we MUST do it. Enough about membership, how about our real work ...

2012 - WOHVA's Own Legislative and Land Use Report Card

WOHVA is all about accomplishing a political and land use agenda. At year-end it's always helpful to look back and reflect on how we've done. We'll score ourselves here but as always, we'd appreciate YOUR views (please send them to communications@WOHVA.org. In all we worked on over 20 legislative bills, and tracked over twice that amount:
  • Dirt Bike Road Use (A) - We were happy to provide significant input and see implemented the regulations legalizing license plates for qualified dirt bikes we helped pass in the prior session.
  • ATV Road Use (C-) - Unfortunately we weren't as successful for ATVs and other vehicles using roads, although we did step in and stop very harmful legislation at the last minute.
  • Landowner Liability Immunity ("fail") - Working from the Sustainable Recreation Work Group recommendations, we attempted to improve public and private landowner liability laws, but it was opposed by lobbyists representing trial lawyers and we were unable to overcome their powerful opposition.
  • Discover Pass (B-) - While the new pass DOES provide limited DNR trail funding, it provides much more funding for State Parks and still needs clarification to correct the DNR's misapplication of the requirements concerning ORV and other improvements.
  • NOVA Funds Restored (B-) - We were successful in re-establishing NOVA funding without another theft. But we don't have any long-term security and need to be very vigilant, especially considering the inevitable and ongoing upcoming legislative budget crisis.
  • Election Results (C) - This was a mixed bag as regrettably several pro-OHV legislators were not re-elected or retired this past year, while we were able to maintain several key individuals.
  • Land Use – Reiter (C-) - After being closed for 3 years, we DID see several miles of dirt bike and 4X4 trails open recently. Still, this area is less than 25% of its former size, and that after investing significant volunteer time and far too much money.
2013 – WOHVA's Legislative Agenda

While our report card for 2012 wasn't all "A's", we're learning a lot and continuing to establish ourselves and our positions. For 2013, while we'll again need to take a defensive posture on many bills, WOHVA is intending to move forward on the following:
  • ORV Road Use - Creating a simple bill for ORV road use building on the existing successes of 13 eastern Washington local jurisdictions already permitting this.
  • Discover Pass clarifications - Several improvements are needed such as honoring ORV permits, creating greater trail funding, and improving transferability.
  • Landowner Liability Immunity - Narrowing our scope should help us provide landowners with the immunity they need to support motorized off road recreation on their land.
  • NOVA Funds Protection - "No man's life, liberty, or property are safe while the legislature is in session". - Mark Twain
NOVA Funds Theft Lawsuit – Supreme Court Denies WOHVA/NMA Justice

We've just learned that we've lost our final appeal for returning our stolen 2009 NOVA funds. While four of the nine Washington State Supreme Court Judges agreed with us, three disagreed and the remaining two believed that since the funds were gone the case was moot so we had no majority. We strongly disagree with findings of mootness by Justices Steven Gonzalez and Mary Fairhurst because this issue is likely to reoccur and agree with Justice James Johnson.

His dissenting opinion closed with "I would require any expenditure of gas tax purportedly not used on highway roads under article II, section 40 to have a specifically targeted benefit to the affected non-highway taxpayers in order to comply with the constitutional restrictions on the expenditure of motor vehicle fuel tax revenue. In my view, the proposed benefit to non-highway taxpayers in the 2009 appropriation for Parks employees' salaries is beyond attenuated so as to be fiction. Thus, I would find any future appropriations, which are similar to the 2009 appropriation at issue in this case, constitutionally invalid."

Justices Tom Chambers, Charles Johnson, and Debra Stephens join his dissent, while Justices Barbara Madsen, Charles Wiggins, and Susan Owens found the misappropriation to be constitutionally acceptable.

In our State members of the Supreme Court are elected so you may want to keep these results in mind the next time these Justices are up for re-election.

Yes, to quote the 1976 movie Network "We’re mad as hell and we're not going to take this anymore!" But, our 2009 battle is over and we must look forward.

We've been failed by all three branches of government on this, with the legislative side passing legislation enabling the theft, and the executive branch condoning it. Now the judiciary failed to uphold the State Constitution by not ruling that the legislative action was unconstitutional.

After finding this lump of coal in our stocking, the only positive spin we can see is that we've impressed upon many legislators that this is wrong, and that more of the Washington Supreme Court Justices agreed with us than disagreed.

A user-fee supported system relies on the public trusting that their fees will actually support their use. Our Washington legislators will hopefully see that while the courts wouldn't reverse their wrongdoing, breaking the public's trust must have serious consequences.

And on that somber note, we'll end this issue, wishing you and your's a happy holiday and a much better new year!


WOHVA AT YOUR GROUP – Interested in having a WOHVA representative attend one of your club or business meetings? Or maybe you have a ride or event coming up? Send an e-mail to info@WOHVA.org Please include date, location, and a point of contact!

MAILING LIST – To get on our mailing list, join WOHVA at www.WOHVA.org or join a WOHVA member club or organization.

WHERE TO RIDE – Looking for new places to ride in Washington State? Check out our WOHVA Where To Ride website for the latest info on areas, roads, trails, or MX Parks near you!

Got CLOUT? – Email clout@getclout.org for more information on how to have a direct impact on events in Olympia.

WOHVA IS YOU – VOLUNTEERS NEEDED – See something here that interests you? Did we strike a resonant chord? WOHVA is 100% volunteer and your efforts make a big difference. Please send an e-mail to info@WOHVA.org to let us know how you’d like to help.

Thank you,