Tod Petersen, WOHVA Political Action Chair
The 2017 Washington State legislative session is well under way and it looks like it will involve a protracted budget battle.
So far, all of the proposed budget legislation includes millions of dollars of increased ORV funding reflecting our share of the recent gas tax increases.
So far, so good, but these bills will undoubtedly evolve significantly before they are enacted so we will be watching closely.
A number of bills have been introduced that would create a "carbon"or "fuel"tax. All of these bills would add a new tax on motor vehicle fuel, varying from 14 to 23 cents a gallons with provisions to automatically go up in the future. The money would go to a variety of uses, including education. Since Article II, Section 40 of the Washington State Constitution prohibits money from motor vehicle fuel taxes from being used for non-road purposes, this appears to us to be unconstitutional.
WOHVA is actively opposing House Bill 1286 ( HB1286 ) due the disproportionately large portion of the cost burden it would impose on the purchasers of ORV permits. This bill would raise the title change fee from $12 to $18. It would also raise registration renewal fee from $5 to $9. The result would be having to pay $30.75 for a $18 ORV permit with only $14.76 going toward ORV recreation. The fee money would go to buying new ferry boats. We are working with key Legislators to craft a better solution concerning ORV permit fees.
There are a few bills introduced that would require proof of insurance to obtain or renew a motor vehicle if insurance is required by law. None of these have seen any real progress.
On the WATV road use front, House Bill 1156 ( HB1156 ) would expand the WATV road use county population threshold from 15k to 300k. This would expand it out to all but the five largest counties. This bill received a hearing before the House Transportation Committee, but the committee chairman Judy Clibborn appears disinclined to bring it up for a vote.
House Bill 1307 ( HB1307 ) would allow local jurisdictions to establish different speed limits for different vehicle types. This would facilitate opening some roads with speed limits over 35 MPH to WATV use at a slower speed limit.
Once again, WOHVA is supporting legislation that would allow spouses to share their volunteer hours for the purpose of earning a free Discover Pass. This year the bill is Senate Bill 5200 ( SB5200 ) and was passed by the Senate Natural Resources Committee without opposition.
We have drafted new landowner liability protection legislation and Grant Nelson is working with the lobbyists representing the trial lawyers to see if we can come up with something they will not oppose. Unfortunately we have made little progress on this issue this year. The trial lawyers are very powerful in Olympia!
The Washington State Motorsport Dealers Association (WSMDA)is promoting two bills, House Bill 1466 ( HB1446 ) and Senate Bill 5338 ( SB5338 ). This would make it a gross misdemeanor for a resident of WA to register an ORV or snowmobile in another state for the purpose of evading WA state registration fees. They believe Washington State is losing out on a large amount of ORV funding due to people illegally registering their vehicles out of state. Since this is already illegal under existing RCW46.16A.030(6) it is unclear what this would actually accomplish other than bringing visibility to the issue.
Keep an eye on the WOHVA Facebook page to stay up to date and learn how you can help us achieve OHV positive legislative outcomes.
Also, check our "Legislation of Interest to OHVers" web page on www.wohva.org to see ALL the legislation that may be of interest of OHVers.
Want to get involved locally? Here's some of our local groups' Facebook pages:
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