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Non-highway motor fuel use study

Published (3/4/2010)
By Lee Ann Schutz
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Members of one House division were deluged with e-mails regarding a proposed study about non-highway motor fuel use. Their concern? That potential findings may end up closing plants that manufacture all-terrain vehicles, more restrictions on ATV use on public right-of-ways and higher user fees.

“Unfortunately who ever sent the e-mails, sent out a lot of erroneous things, things that are not in the bill, and it really created a problem,” Rep. Bernie Lieder (DFL-Crookston) told the House Transportation Finance and Policy Division March 2.

Lieder, the division chairman, sponsors HF3148, which would authorize a $250,000 study on fuel use for non-highway purposes. This includes motorboats, snowmobiles, ATVs and off-highway motorcycles.

Gas tax proceeds are used not only for roads but also for non-highway uses that the Department of Natural Resources oversees. The last time a study was commissioned on the subject, it was conducted by the DNR, Lieder said. “That’s like putting the fox in the hen house. That’s their money.”

This study, conducted by the University of Minnesota Center for Transportation Studies, would hope to:

• develop a methodology that objectively and accurately provides estimates of motor fuel use for each non-highway purpose;

• develop estimates of motor fuel use for each non-highway purpose;

• evaluate the costs incurred for each public locale due to use by non-highway purposes; and

• provide, based on the study results, policy options for any changes to the attribution of motor fuel use. A report would be due to the Legislature by Feb. 1, 2011.

Because there is so much concern on both sides of the issue, Lieder tabled the bill and said it would receive a full hearing at a later date.

There is no Senate companion.

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