AUGUSTA – Democrats in the Maine House of Representatives voted Monday to enact a bill that would raise by 15 percent the registration fee for residents and non-residents who own an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) .
L.D. 911 was sponsored by Rep. Sheryl Briggs (D-Mexico) and is intended to support the ATV Recreational Management Fund. According to the fund’s authorizing legislation, the money raised through fees is used for a host of ATV-related causes:
The fund may be used to conduct research on issues related to the management of ATVs; assist in the formation of nonprofit ATV groups; make grants-in-aid to political subdivisions, educational institutions, regional planning agencies, ATV groups and others to construct and maintain ATV trails, to purchase equipment or to otherwise carry out the purposes of the fund; assist in the design and development of ATV trails; purchase, lease or otherwise acquire interests in land, including, but not limited to, fee or easement interests for ATV trails or sport-riding facilities; provide protection to landowners against ATV-related suit or liability; or otherwise provide for the wise and orderly management of ATVs.
The proposed fee hike amounts to a $5 increase, from $33 to $38, and would still place the cost below similar fees in neighboring New Hampshire, where the fee for registering an ATV is $55 per year.
While increase is relatively small, House Republicans said it is yet another example of the lawmakers looking for additional revenues because welfare spending at the Department of Health and Human Services is devouring Maine’s revenue.
“Once again, Democrats are taxing Maine people to cover costs at state agencies because all the funding in the budget is going to pay for more and more welfare,” said Rep. Paul Davis (R-Sangerville), ranking House Republican on the Inland, Fisheries and Wildlife Committee. “We’re passing tax hikes and fee increases left and right along party lines and they’re not big ones, but they all add up.”
Republicans pointed to a bill Democrats attempted to enact in March that would have increased motor vehicle registration fees 50-67 percent — a fee hike that Gov. Paul LePage ultimately vetoed. This bill will be voted on in the Senate before heading to LePage’s desk, where it is also expected to meet a swift veto.