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The Maine Snowmobile Association

When contacting elected officials, please be polite and concise. Note the legislation about which you are communicating, make your point, and thank them in advance for any support or consideration they give to your concerns. An attitude of "disagreeing without being disagreeable" will reflect well on the association and make your comments more powerful.

                 MSA News & Snowmobiling Issues

Issues in the Sport
Coalition asks Roxanne Quimby to abandon national park plans
127th Maine Legislature - How snowmobilers fared
Snowmobile Program Report Presented
Issues in the Sport
Cold gusty weather with a hint of snow greeted attendees at the Maine Snowmobile Show the third weekend of October, and if activity at the Augusta Civic Center is any indicator, snowmobilers are ready for a repeat of 2014-15. Attendance was up for the 19th year of the annual event, and by all reports from dealers, attendees were shopping and planning for an excellent season.
The Trails Workshop on Saturday morning also saw a large crowd of trailmasters and club officers who came to hear the latest on several changes in store for the Snowmobile Program this season. Joe Higgins of the Snowmobile Division reviewed the significant changes to the Capital Equipment Grant program, which will now use a scoring system to pre-approve grants for new equipment purchases. The goal of the program is to place equipment where it is most needed and to ensure that clubs that are approved will get the most bang for their buck with equipment purchases. The target reimbursement, subject to available funds will be a 40 per cent match on equipment purchases.
Higgins previewed the Program's new Disaster Relief Grants which are designed to assist clubs that are faced with catastrophic damage cause by storms and other natural events.
Higgins also shared good news for all clubs in attendance - which is, it is likely everyone will see their grants increase this coming season. One of the provisions of LD-716, the fee bill passed this year, was a requirement that the Snowmobile Program devise a plan to ensure that any additional revenues generated from the fee increase be equitably distributed among all the clubs in the state. The Program, with the assistance and approval of the Snowmobile Trail Fund Advisory Council, developed a plan that, again subject to available funds, will increase club and municipal grants by $20 per mile for the upcoming season. That means that if a club uses up their entire club grant during the upcoming season, they could be reimbursed as much as $600 more than in previous years.
Other speakers at the workshop included Tom Doak, Executive Director of SWOAM, on landowner relations. Doak's presentation included summaries of research that have been conducted by the University of Maine on landowner attitudes and expectations regarding public recreational use of private lands. Using SWOAM's land trust properties as an example, Doak outlined landowners' expectations for clubs and use requirements that are increasingly becoming part of the mix in many areas. MSA Executive Director Bob Meyers spoke about insurance for clubs, particularly the liability policy offered by V & V Insurance. Many landowners are now requiring liability coverage for trail use on their property. MSA Trails Committee Chair Mike Grass closed the workshop with a short presentation on signing. Over 75 club representatives were in attendance for the workshop.

Trail Supporter Stickers
Riders that really appreciate Maine's highly-rated snowmobile trail system and the endless work by clubs to maintain it now have an opportunity to show their support in a unique way. The Snowmobile Trail Supporter sticker program was another component of LD-716 that passed the Legislature last spring. The stickers are available to any rider who chooses to make an additional donation to the Snowmobile Trail Fund over and above the regular registration fee. The colorful stickers are available in increments of $25, $50 and $100. The proceeds from each Trail Supporter sticker, less a $2 administrative charge, will be transferred directly to the Snowmobile Program to support the trail fund. Stickers may be purchased online or at registration agents across the state. They may also be purchased at any time after a sled has been registered. For more information on on-line purchases, visit

Canadian Free Weekend
Maine riders may soon be able to visit New Brunswick and welcome riders from the other side of the border as part of a law passed last spring. LD-88, sponsored by Rep. Dan Martin of Sinclair, created a free weekend with New Brunswick and Quebec, similar to the existing free weekend with New Hampshire and Vermont. The law provides for free passage for a three-day weekend, provided the other jurisdiction honors the same for Maine riders. Discussions have been ongoing with New Brunswick and it is likely a three-day weekend with New Brunswick will take place sometime in mid-February. It is hoped that dates will be finalized before the December issue of the Maine Snowmobiler. To date the Quebec Federation of Snowmobile Clubs has not yet participated in the discussions.

Coalition asks Roxanne Quimby to abandon national park plans
Enough Already! After years of promotion and empty promises, residents of the Katahdin Area have said a resounding "NO!" to a national park in their backyard. It's time to move on and work towards real economic progress in rural Maine. Click the links to read the most recent press release and a letter to Roxanne Quimby and Lucas St Clair.
Coalition Press release, Letter to Quimby and St Clair

127th Maine Legislature - How snowmobilers fared
Here's how we ended up:
LD-88, An Act To Authorize Snowmobile Registration Reciprocity with the Provinces of New Brunswick and Quebec, sponsored by Rep. Roland "Danny" Martin of Sinclair, was passed and became law without the Governor's signature. This bill extended the 3-day "free" weekend Maine currently has with New Hampshire and Vermont to the provinces of Quebec and New Brunswick provided they offer the same accommodation to Maine. There are some technical issues regarding incompatible provincial laws, but the MSA and the Dept. IF&W will be reaching out to the provinces and will keep riders informed on progress toward this. The MSA supported this bill.

LD-561, An Act To Recognize the Registrations of Snowmobiles and All-terrain Vehicles Owned by Residents of a State That Borders Maine, sponsored by Rep. Matthew Peterson of Rumford and LD-723, An Act To Allow Reciprocal Recognition of New Hampshire and Maine Snowmobile Registrations, sponsored by Sen. David Woodsome of York County were both unanimously rejected by the IF&W Committee and are dead. Both of these bills proposed to reinstate registration reciprocity with New Hampshire residents. The MSA opposed both bills.

LD-716, An Act To Amend the Fees for Snowmobile Registration, sponsored by Rep. Steve Stanley of Medway, was passed and vetoed by Governor LePage. The veto was overridden, and as it was emergency legislation, it went into effect immediately. The MSA originally took no position on this bill, preferring to support LD-1056 (see below). The MSA switched their position to support following the IF&W Committee's decision to make LD-716 their bill of choice to address funding issues.
This bill became a comprehensive package of changes in snowmobile registrations. Those changes are:
It increases the resident snowmobile registration fee from $40 to $45 and dedicates the $5 increase to the Snowmobile Trail Fund.
It increases the 3-day nonresident snowmobile registration fee from $43 to $49 and dedicates the $6 increase to the Snowmobile Trail Fund.
It increases the nonresident seasonal snowmobile registration fee from $88 to $99 and dedicates the $11 increase to the Snowmobile Trail Fund.
It creates a 10-day nonresident snowmobile registration fee and sets the fee at $75.
It directs the Commissioner of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife to create the Snowmobile Trail Fund Donation Sticker Program and to create donation stickers to reflect a donorŐs donation of $25, $50 and $100, respectively, of which $2 is retained by the department and the remainder is transferred to the Snowmobile Trail Fund. The donation stickers are not a part of or associated with the StateŐs snowmobile registration requirements.
It directs the Commissioner of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry to develop written policies specifying the criteria the department will us to distribute additional revenues raised pursuant to this amendment to snowmobile clubs and to submit those policies for review to the IF&W Committee no later than January 15, 2016.

LD-1056, An Act To Improve Snowmobiling in Maine, sponsored by Rep. Steve Wood of Sabattus, proposed a $15 snowmobile trail fund sticker that could be purchased for each snowmobile registered in the State, the proceeds of which were to be transferred to the Snowmobile Trail Fund. When the IF&W Committee chose to focus their attention on LD-716, they amended LD-1056 to reinstate the sales tax exemption on sleds purchased in Maine by non-residents that was repealed during the 125th Legislature. This was a controversial move, and although it received unanimous support from the Committee, it was later indefinitely postponed in the House and is now dead.

LD-1411, An Act To Amend the Tax Laws, sponsored by Sen. Earle McCormick of Kennebec County, was the Bureau of Revenue Services'bill to correct what they perceive as corrections and clarifications that need to be made in the tax laws. One of the provisions this year dealt with the collection of sales and use tax of snowmobiles purchased in Maine by non-residents. The MSA opposed this provision, as it could have created a situation where non-residents registering in Maine could have possibly been responsible to pay a use tax on their sled even if it was not purchased in Maine. The MSA opposed this provision and with the help of Rep. Mike Shaw, House Chair of the IF&W Committee, Sen. Paul Davis (an MSA Past-President) and House Taxation Committee Chair Rep. Adam Good negotiated amended language that essentially maintained the status quo on non-resident sales tax requirements. This bill was passed and became law without the GovernorŐs signature.

LD-1435, An Act Regarding Ethanol-free Motor Fuel, sponsored on behalf of the Governor by Rep. Beth O'Connor of Berwick. This bill was supported by the MSA and states that a motor fuel distributor, franchisor or refiner may not impose any condition, restriction, agreement or understanding that prohibits or limits the sale, resale, transfer or purchase of conventional, ethanol-free motor fuel products in the State. While there are still questions of supply, this could open the door for the sale of ethanol-free fuel in Maine.

Special thanks is due to MSA members who worked hard contacting their legislators and keeping them informed on what was important during this session. No snowmobile bills were held over for the second session of the 126th Legislature, although emergency measures may be introduced at the Governor's request or by approval by the Legislative Council. We'll be updating members as the session draws near, and members are encouraged to sign up for the MSA's e-mail alert system for breaking information on issues important to snowmobilers. - Bob Meyers

Snowmobile Program Report Presented
The Report of the Internal Review of the Snowmobile Program by Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Commissioner Walt Whitcomb, was presented to the Legislature's ACF Committee in early January. This study was initiated as a result of legislation introduced by the MSA last winter. We believe that the report and recommendations will help increase transparency and equity within the program and help clubs statewide as we move forward. View the report.