Legislation #3!

May 16th 2022 is the day we can officially lay claim to getting our 3rd piece of legislation passed! Governor Larry Hogan signed HB 1143, a Bill several years in the making.

A little background on this story. As many of you know, MDOHVA is Maryland’s leading advocate for Off-Highway Vehicles. We’ve spent years further developing Maryland Off-Highway Vehicle Alliance into a name with State wide recognition. Enriching our partnership with Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources, fostered relationships with Towns and local businesses in Western Maryland, as well as made relationships with state and local leaders.

Why? Because 10 years ago there were only a few miles of non-connected public trails in MD. Through years of hard work this organization and many others, this number grew in a few short years to over 65 miles and climbing. This is not solely due to MDOHVA, leaders and legislators before us helped pave the way. Our prior 2 pieces of legislation removed landowners liability for allowing OHV recreation for free, and gave DNR 50% of OHV Titling fees under the mandate of creating and maintaining trails.

This matters, not only because of the recreational opportunities riding provides, but the life style, freedom, family environment and economic growth it cultivates.So today HB1143 will be signed into law (signed without opposition!), allowing Off-Highway Motorcycles, ATV’s, SxS etc, the ability to ride on county roads in Allegany and Garrett Counties up to 5 miles, building upon previous legislation. This will lets riders go between trail heads on different properties, and ride into town to spend their money. Paving the way for other projects that others call a “pipe dream,” but are much closer to reality than ever thought possible. But that’s a story for another time.

The reason we do this is because riding is a HUGE part of our lives. A core value held by our board is the importance of making things better and passing down this sport from one generation to the next. Not just passing it down, but growing it!

A special thank you to MDOHVA’s Board of directors. They have laid the foundation for this success. We would also like to thank the Western Maryland Delegation. Among them, Delegate Jason Buckel (Lead sponsor of this Bill), Delegate Mike McKay (long time and continued supporter of OHV access and recreational tourism), and most importantly retiring Senator George Edwards. Without Senator Edwards work on the previous two pieces of legislation, this Bill, Wolf Den Run State Park, and Saint John’s Rock would not exist.

As we also like to say, support those who support us. That goes for businesses, communities, and the politicians who have secured and continue to fight for our access to recreate on public lands. It is primary season, so ask your candidates where they stand on OHV recreation, and consider supporting those who already do!

image.png
image.png
image.png

James Ratino, President

HB1143 Testimony

On March 9th 2022, at about 5:30PM, 4.5 hours after the committee hearing was scheduled to start, HB 1143 was finally heard. Delegate Buckel introduced the Bill on behalf of the Allegany County and Garrett County Delegations and did a wonderful job expressing their and the counties unanimous support. There was no opposition to the Bill, and only 1 delegate had questions as she was unfamiliar with the original Bill and was seeking clarification on which roads are eligible for riding, and what type of people this law would cater to.

Several members of this committee came to Wolf Den Run State Park when it first opened and have experienced this on road law as intended. One of them, Delegate David Fraser-Hidalg (Montgomery County), helped further clarify the simple nature of this Bill in a very positive light to the rest of the committee members. If anyone is interested in watching the 10 minute hearing on this Bill.  We run from the 3Hr 13 min – 3Hr 25min mark.

Thank you everyone for your support and submitting testimony,

James

We have a Bill! HB1143

Right now we have a Bill working its way through the legislation that we need your help getting out of committee.

Currently, in Allegany and Garrett counties, you can purchase a permit from the county to ride on the road with your Snowmobile, ATV, or SxS on county roads, up to 2 miles. This means riders at Wolf Den Run State Park, or Saint John’s Rock ORV trail, must pull off of the road and re-enter to reach their final destinations. And off-highway motorcycles, unless they have a license plate, need to be trailered between locations. This created a potentially confusing law for multi-OHV type groups to navigate. But HB 1143 will change that.

HB1143 will add Off-Highway Motorcycles to the definition of ATV’s for the on road ATV law of Allegany and Garrett counties. HB 1143 will also increase the mileage of onroad travel up to 5 miles from the current limit. This is a large step in the right direction for creating better and easier OHV access. This will allow WDRSP to function as designed and allow WDRSP riders and SJR riders access to their respective towns of Kitzmiller and Lonaconing and bring their business with them.

So, how do you helpTestify! The Transportation Committee hearing is 3/9 at 1pm. You can submit written testimony, or provide oral testimony virtually via ZOOM. You will need to create a “MY MGA” account. To do this, click on this link that gives Bill details, https://mgaleg.maryland.gov/mgawebsite/Legislation/Details/hb1143 and click on the “MY MGA” logo at the top right corner.

However, there is a limited window of opportunity to sign up to testify. You can create your account at any time, but you must sign up on Monday, March 7th between 8am and 3pm. Outside of that window, you will not be able to sign up.

Several members of this Committee have been to Wolf Den Run State Park, ridden the trails, and utilized this on road provision to access the different parcels, so they are familiar with how this law currently functions.

I want to thank everyone for their support to date, and thank you for your help on this legislation. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me directly.

Sincerely,

James Ratino
President of Maryland OHV Alliance

Off–Highway Recreational Vehicle Trail Fund Legislation Passed!

On 15 May 2018, Governor Hogan signed Senate Bill 606 which was introduced by Senator Edwards at the request of the Maryland Motorcycle Dealers Association (MMDA) and the Maryland Off-Highway Vehicle Alliance (MDOHVA). It creates, within DNR, an Off–Highway Recreational Vehicle Trail Fund and transfers roughly $750,000 per year from the Transportation Trust Fund (TTF) to the trail fund. Further, it fences those funds so that they can only be used for ORV trails! Those funds come from the Title Tax we all pay when any ATV, SxS, dirt bike, etc are purchased within Maryland. The MMDA has been working for over a decade to get that money transferred to DNR where it belongs. Until now, those funds were used to maintain highways!  The MDOHVA is proud to have been able to assist in this.

This is HUGE! A common problem in getting trails built on public lands is the lack of funds to build and maintain them. With this legislation, the funding issue has disappeared. This was a great day for all ORV enthusiasts.

Sunday Hunting Legislation

Sunday hunting is a controversial issue amongst our group.  Many riders are also ardent hunters.  However many of us aren’t and wish to be able to ride on weekends during hunting season.  This approach seems a fair solution.  You need to decide on your own.  Either way, please let you elected leaders know your position.  If you need help determining your representatives, go to http://mdelect.net/

Senator Joan Carter Conway  sponsored, wrote and submitted the Sunday hunting compromise bill. The bill can be read under Documents.

http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/webmga/frmMain.aspx?id=sb1061&stab=01&pid=billpage&tab=subject3&ys=2016RS

Ken Kyler
President, MD OHV Alliance