Colorado to Pass New Terrain Vehicle Bill?

Are you about to spot UTVs on Colorado county roads soon? That’s the direction a measure seems to be headed, which will potentially allow off-highway vehicles, such as UTVs, to legally drive on county roads. However, don’t start mapping out your new routes just yet. According to Colorado lawmakers, the measure is on the right track but still has a lengthy journey ahead before it’s kosher to take to the county roads. Brought forward by state Rep. J. Paul Brown of Ignacio, the proposed measure will only allow access on dirt roads, keeping paved county roads clear of UTVs as requested by State Patrol. Plus, drivers have to be at least 16 years old and can’t drive faster than 35 mph when on allowed county roads. So far, the bill has been passed by the House State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee—and the vote was unanimous. It’s estimated that should the bill pass, it will stir up almost $6 million in revenue thanks to registration fees alone. Plus, it would also boost the required amount that’s refunded to taxpayers via the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights. However, there are still some bumps on this (dirt-riddled) road. Lawmakers Tackle UTV/ATV Bill According to Colorado lawmakers, the state budget would need to be trimmed in order to counteract potential refunds from the bill. That’s no easy task. According to Brown’s team, the next stop is the House Finance Committee. This is where the bill might be nixed due to the refund issue alone. According to Rep. Mike Foote of Lafayette, “Extra cash funds means we’ll have to make a corresponding reduction in the General Fund because of (the bill). We’re in a different situation because of that here, but we’ll be discussing that in Finance.” Already, there have been a number of defeats of the bill in Legislature, but it’s still alive and kicking—for now. Brown has committed to ramping up efforts in 2015. Supporters say the bill is designed to carefully preserve local control, especially considering that at a county level, a number of Colorado counties have drafted their own laws that go against state law preferences. According to Ouray County Commissioner Lynn Padgett, “My goal is not to be in conflict with the state for trying to increase safety on some pretty extreme conditions.” For UTV riders in Colorado, they’re uncertain whether 2015 will be the year they can legally take to dirt county roads, potentially opening up a smorgasbord of new “trails”. If it’s a go, then Colorado will have even more claims to fame when it comes to being a leading UTV riding state.

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