For several years, Delegate Lawrence A. LaMotte, D-Carroll, Baltimore, worked with motorcycling and recreational riding organizations in an effort to reach an acceptable compromise for legislation regulating all-terrain vehicles.
After some fine-tuning, LaMotte said it seemed that the motorcycling groups were becoming more conciliatory toward a proposal designed to reduce damage caused by ATV riders who trespass on private and public lands and to improve safety for the riders.
Over the last five years, the bill has died for a variety of reasons -- among them, motorcycling groups' objections to a metal licenseplate and complaints that ATV owners had no place to ride. LaMotte has addressed those issues in his current bill.
But it appears again this year that several motorcycling organizations are determined tokill the bill.
LaMotte testified Wednesday at a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee, saying the bill was prompted by complaints from state police, Department of Natural Resources police, school officials, county government officials, farmers and environmentalists.
The bill would require annual registration of each ATV with the Motor Vehicle Administration for an $18.50 fee. The vehicle would be required to display an identification decal, which would aid police enforcement.
A portion of the fee would be applied toward administering the program, while most of the money collected would be used by the Department of Natural Resources to buy and develop recreational areas for ATV riders and to provide safety programs.
The bill also would set a minimum age of 18 for owning an ATV and a minimum age of 12 for operating the vehicle, considered by many to be dangerous. It would require riders to wear a helmet and goggles.
Bobbie Seabolt,a representative from the Maryland chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics supported the bill, citing a staggering number of deathsand injuries resulting from ATV accidents each year. She said the clause prohibiting ownership for those under 18 could help cut down on accidents.
Howard Glashoff, chief of security for the Baltimore City Department of Public Works, also backed the bill, saying ATVs had caused considerable damage to the three watersheds supplying drinkingwater to the city.
The Maryland Farm Bureau also supported the bill.
A representative from the American Motorcyclists Association signed up too late to provide oral testimony, but the group presented a letter to the committee outlining eight different objections to thebill. The bill "has an orientation toward regulating the possession of off-road motorcycles and ATVs as opposed to regulation of use," the letter says.
The Maryland Motorcycle Industry Association also filed an objection to the legislation, expressing doubts that registration decals would help with identifying riders and that the financingprovisions would work as planned.