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At the Legislature 2012

By Doug Franzen, MnUSA Lobbyist
The 2012 session of the Minnesota Legislature convened on January 24th and is expected to be a brief and intense session. 2012 is and election year and, for the first time in a decade, all senators and representatives will have new (redistricted) legislative districts as a result of the last census. This leads to political uncertainty since the new districts won’t be announced until February 21st.  Most incumbent legislators want to start campaigning in the new districts as early as possible so an early adjournment is likely.
Legislative leaders hope to adjourn (end the session) sometime in April, possibly before Passover and Easter. Because the legislative session will be unusually brief, it will be much more difficult to pass new initiatives. Nevertheless, MnUSA has adopted a proactive agenda for 2012.
Our first goal is passage of Senate File 1183 by the House of Representatives and then signature into law by the Governor. The bill restores a lower liability limit for municipalities and counties who contract with snowmobile clubs under the grant in aid program as well as other recreational uses. In turn, clubs will enjoy lower insurance prices because they will not necessarily be required to buy quite as much insurance. This bill passed the Senate by a margin of 66-0 in 2011 but failed to get a vote in the House. We will be working very hard with a goal of getting a positive House vote at the earliest possible time. The House author of this bill is Rep. David Dill. The Senate author is Sen. Julianne Ortman. Please contact your State Representative to indicate your support for this important bill.  Signed into law - 3/15/12.
Our second goal is to pass legislation which combines the snowmobile registration and the trail pass. We have been working since early 2011 with the DNR to craft a bill that meets the needs of snowmobilers, does not increase costs and provides increased administrative flexibility for the DNR. MnUSA believes that this bill meets all of these goals. Rep. Tom Hackbarth will be the bill’s chief author in the House (HF 1796). At the time of this writing, our potential Senate author is reviewing the language prior to introducing the bill in the Senate.  Incorporated into HF 2171.
Our third and final legislative goal is to open all asphalt state trails to studded snowmobiles with the exception of those trails declared closed by the Commissioner of Natural Resources. Under current law, all asphalt state trails are closed unless the Commissioner declares specific trails open. In light of the evidence that studs cause of little or no damage to the trail, this shift makes great sense. Rep. Hackbarth will author this bill (HF 1797).  Incorporated into HF 2171.
MnUSA’s agenda is ambitious and we cannot achieve it without your help. One great grassroots lobbying opportunity is our MnUSA Legislative Reception, which will be held on February 28th from 4 pm – 7 pm at the Kelly Inn near the State Capitol in St. Paul. Snowmobilers from throughout the state spend time with their elected representatives in a relaxed social environment to discuss snowmobiling. Please mark your calendars and join your fellow snowmobilers. It’s not only important for our sport, its great fun.

2012 Legislative Wrap-Up Open Item
Thanks to all who supported MnUSA's Legislative Priorities!
MnUSA's 2012 Legislative Priorities Open Item
Sample Registration Decals Open Item
Sample Registration Decals JPEG Open Item

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