By Stephen King
There has been very little activity to report this month from the Michigan Legislature. With all the goings on that have been in the news, that could sound either rather odd or par for the course. However, what has really been happening is that the outgoing legislators are gone, and the new crop of legislators are in.
“The first session of the 2021-2022 session was Wednesday, Jan. 13. Bills have started to be introduced, but nothing related to natural resources yet,” said a statement from the office of Sen. Ed McBroom (R-Vulcan), who will remain chair for two more years of the Natural Resources Committee. “So, there is very little to report.”
Last year, as you may recall, a few bills were introduced but did not make the cut. Many concerned the state’s snowmobile helmet law. It would have nixed the requirement for anybody with a medical condition to wear a helmet.
Next, there was a bill to change the penalties for not having your Michigan Snowmobile Permit sticker displayed improperly. That bill would have set a limit of a fine of up to $150. Currently, not having a trail sticker displayed correctly is a criminal misdemeanor and has tougher penalties.
Then, there was a bill to remove trail head users from having to have a Recreational Passport. The mindset behind this was that motor trail users had already paid a fee when they bought the trail stickers and paid other fees — basically, this means trail heads are “user funded” and to charge users another fee would be like double dipping.
Finally, there is still a move to not allow anything other than snowmobiles on the state land portion of designated snowmobile trails during the official snowmobile season — Dec. 1-March 31. Last year, no bill was introduced; however, that idea is still being touted by many snowmobilers. It has not been totally embraced by the ORV community or other groups that use the trails.
Although there is little happening now, as the legislators start to find their pace we can expect more bills to be introduced. We will strive to keep our readers informed.