NOW: user fee; off-highway vehicles
Our Position: support
Bill Number: SB1167
Sponsor: L. Gray
Legislative Session: 2008 Legislative Session
The Sierra Club supported SB1167, a measure which establishes a user fee for off-road vehicles, increases funding for law enforcement, includes important safety provisions, clarifies where it is unlawful to drive off-road vehicles, and establishes a grant program. There were several improvements added to this years bill, which we think help ensure responsible use of the grant dollars our key concern from last year was there were not adequate protections in the grant program.
The bill was originally HB2573, which failed in the Senate Natural Resources and Rural Affairs Committee. It was resurrected as a strike everything amendment on SB1167 -- Senator Linda Gray's bill. It never did go through the Republican Caucus, but was brought directly to the floor. It passed 16-7-7 in the Senate in the last week of the Legislative Session. The Governor signed it.
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To read a copy of the bill or see a more detailed status, click on SB1167.
Sandy Bahr at (602) 253-8633 or firstname.lastname@example.org
SB1167 establishes a user fee for off-road vehicles and a program for using those fees. It requires anyone with an off-highway vehicle that is less than 1800 pounds and that is designed by the manufacturer primarily for travel over unimproved terrain and who is driving on an off-highway trail or in an off-highway use area to have an indicia issued by the Arizona Department of Transportation. The amount of the fee would be determined by the Department in consultation with Game and Fish and State Parks. The indicia are valid for one year. The Director of ADOT will also prescribe the design and placement of the indicia.
Seventy percent of the dollars generated by the fee go to the off-road vehicle recreation fund and thirty percent go to the highway user revenue fund to hold that fund harmless for reductions in revenue generated by the vehicle license tax for these vehicles.
Of the seventy percent of the dollars that go to the off-highway vehicle recreation fund, HB2573 authorizes the Arizona Game and Fish Department to spend up to 35 percent on information and education programs for off-highway vehicle recreation and on law enforcement activities relating to off-highway vehicles, including seven full-time law enforcement officers.
Also, from these dollars, the state land department is required to spend up to five percent to allow occupants of off-highway vehicles with user indicia to cross state trust lands on existing roads, trails, and designated routes. The dollars are directed toward mitigation of damage to the land, for necessary environmental and cultural clearance activities and to fund enforcement.
Sixty percent of the dollars are directed to State Parks for grants that can be used for various activities including to fund enforcement of off-highway vehicle (OHV) laws; to establish off-highway vehicle information and environmental education programs; to mitigate damage to the land as well as to close trails and revegetate; to designate, construct, maintain, manage and acquire land for OHV recreation facilities, OHV use areas, and OHV trails; and for necessary environmental historical and cultural clearance or compliance activities. It limits new trail construction in areas that have environmentally or culturally sensitive land and it caps expenditures on new trail construction at 35 percent. The allocation of these dollars is again determined by an off-highway vehicle plan prepared by the Arizona State Parks Board (Currently, the recommendations come from the Off-Highway Vehicle Advisory Committee which is all OHV users. We will be working to get more balance here as well.)
Any off-highway vehicles used for agricultural, ranching, construction, mining or building trade purposes are exempt from the fee.
It also exempts special events and operation on private or Native American lands if the person has permission, loading and unloading of the vehicle, and operation during a period of substantial emergency.
SB1167 requires owners of all-terrain vehicles and off-highway vehicles to obtain a title for these vehicles which runs with the vehicle and to obtain a new certificate when ownership changes hands. It exempts all-terrain vehicles and off-highway vehicles from the paying the vehicle license tax if they are designed primarily for travel on unimproved roads and they are less than 1800 pounds.
In addition to that SB1167:
- Prohibits a person from driving an OHV off an existing road, trail or route in a manner that causes damage to wildlife habitat, riparian areas, cultural or natural resources or property or improvements.
- Prohibits a person from driving these vehicles on roads, trails, routes or areas that have been closed as indicated in rules or regulations of a federal or state agency or any county or municipality or by proper posting if the land is private land. They cannot drive over unimproved roads, trails, route or areas unless driving in those areas is allowed by rule or regulation. They can only drive these vehicles on roads, trails routes or areas that are open as indicated in rules or regulations of a federal agency, this state, a county or municipality.
- Prohibits operation of an off-highway vehicle in connection with acts of vandalism harassment of wildlife or domestic animals; damage to the environment, including excessive air, water and land pollution; abuse of the watershed; and impairment of plant and animal life.
- Prohibits anyone other than an agent for the federal, state, county town or city agency to place or remove a regulatory sign governing off-highway vehicles.
(The bullet points above are all class 3 misdemeanors.)
SB1167 requires that all off-highway vehicles have:
- Brakes adequate to control the vehicle and to stop and hold the vehicle under normal operating conditions;
- Lighted headlight and tail lights that meet or exceed the equipment manufacture guidelines and if they are operating the vehicle between one-half hour after sunset and one-half hour before sunrise;
- A muffler or other noise dissipative device to prevent noise above 96 decibels, unless operating on a closed course;
- A spark arrestor device that is approved by the USDA; and
- A safety flag.
It requires a person under eighteen to wear protective headgear.
It prohibits off-highway vehicle events on any land or highway in this state unless it is authorized by the appropriate agency that has jurisdiction over the land or highway or by the landowner.
(Violations of the items above are civil traffic violations.)
SB1167 authorizes Game and Fish, in consultation with the Arizona Department of Transportation, to adopt rules to implement this section and to prescribe additional equipment requirements.