FREEDOM AGENDA BILL APPROVED!
Shea bill expanding all-terrain vehicle access passes Legislature, sent to the governor
A bill that would expand all-terrain vehicle access and have a dramatic, positive economic effect throughout Washington has gained legislative approval and is heading to the governor's desk.House Bill 1632, sponsored by 4th District State Rep. Matt Shea, passed the House on Friday with a vote of 81-11. Only hours before the Legislature adjourned its second special session, the measure passed the Senate Saturday, 39-5.
“This 'Freedom Agenda' bill is a collaborative effort of all-terrain vehicle riders, the environmental coalition, ORV and ATV dealers, city and county governments, and Republicans and Democrats alike. It will have an economic impact of an estimated $50 million, bringing people back to Washington state to enjoy off-road vehicle recreation, giving our disabled veterans more places to ride, expanding the use for our agriculture and timber industries, and creating countless new jobs while protecting the environment,” said Shea, R-Spokane Valley.
The bill addresses allowed usage of “wheeled all-terrain vehicles” or WATVs, which include four wheelers and utility-type vehicles.
“The problem has been Washington's overly restrictive laws concerning the use of off-road vehicles and all-terrain vehicles. This is a very popular sport and there are places just outside of many of our rural communities where people bring these vehicles to ride. But state law prohibits them from operating these vehicles on any public roadways. So they cannot ride into town to have lunch, buy gas or do any shopping. That's pushed a lot of these folks to go over the borders to Idaho and Oregon where they can ride. This measure will bring them back to Washington,” said Shea.
Shea says the bill provides for decisions to be made at the local level regarding usage of WATVs.
“The new law would allow local jurisdictions to have their say of whether to open local roads up to this usage and designate which would be open for these all-terrain vehicles. It also provides for transparency, because allowed and disallowed roads would be posted online on the county, city or town's Web sites,” said Shea.
The bill would also require WATVs to display a metal tag on the rear of the vehicle that would be issued with an original off-road vehicle registration. Those who wish to use their WATVs for on-road use must register and would receive a brightly-colored on-road tab to display on their vehicle. The annual on-road registration fee is $12.
Shea noted the bill contains accountability measures to protect private property owners as well as public lands from abuse. It expands exemptions for on-road WATV operations for emergency management purposes and for the production of timber and agriculture products. However, the bill does not allow WATVs to be operated on state highways outside of city limits, and it contains certain restrictions involving the ability of the vehicles to cross a public roadway.
“This bill fits perfectly under our 'Freedom Agenda,' because it gets government out of the way so that jobs can be created in our local communities. There will be some communities that see opportunities in this new law and will take advantage of it to become destination areas for off-road vehicle riders. When that happens, we will see those riders purchase gas and supplies, stay in those local hotels, eat in the local restaurants, and boost our local economies. It's a win-win for everyone,” Shea concluded.
Listen to my floor speech here
Shea floor speech – Shea-HB1632-ORV-Clip-062813,mp3 – 19 seconds: “This is going to have an economic impact in the tens of millions of dollars. Jobs for Washington state in all parts of Washington. And at the same time, it balances accountability and protection for the environment. A win-win for all sides, I think, Mr. Speaker. Helps our ag industry, our timber industry, and also, it preserves local control.”