In May, Chris Hayes wrote a Bad Bill of the Week on "The Government Wants to Know About Your ATV." Senator Eddie Goodall (R-Union) has written an excellent editorial giving a lot more weight in the form of numbers to why this is definitely a BAD BILL.
Senate Bill 642, “Require Off-Road Vehicles to Be Registered”, provides a textbook example of how NC’s government quietly grows and in the process adds countless regulations and bureaucracies its citizens must work through. This money grab will cost off-road vehicle owners $25 million in the first five years of this program.
Got an ATV or dirt bike in the shed you occasionally ride around on the farm or woods? Well it’s time to take your checkbook down to the DMV office. In simple language, SB 642 mandates the registration and titling of all-terrain vehicles and motorcycles with the Division of Motor Vehicles.
In the first year alone over 100,000 off-road vehicle owners would be required to pay a registration fee of $15 and titling fee of $40. Projections for the subsequent four years show over 25,000 additional vehicles annually subject to these title and registration requirements. Vehicle registration information will also be sent to counties for property tax collections, thereby imposing yet another financial burden.
According to the bill’s sponsor Senator Doug Berger, a Democrat representing Franklin County, a few constituents called him and complained of off-road vehicles trespassing on their property. These citizens could not identify and therefore prosecute the individuals involved. Lo and behold a statewide solution, costing millions of dollars – with countless regulations, was crafted to make his constituents happy.
While NC budget writers must enact substantial workforce cuts and deal with a multi-billion dollar budget shortfall, this program does exactly the opposite. In the first year alone, it adds over $1.63 million in state expense. New personnel officers will be sworn DMV officials – fully equipped with a “State vehicle, uniforms, weapons, offices and supplies, and information technology support.”
Postage costs alone to administer the program would run over $113,000 the first five years. Reprogramming the State Titling and Registration System (STARS) would require over 5,620 man-hours with costs running $569,075.
Buying an off-road vehicle for use by a child under 16? Be prepared for a trip to DMV to secure a North Carolina Identification card so they can ride around the farm or woods.
Union County Sheriff Eddie Cathey told me he had a few complaints but typically the culprit would be a neighbor’s child and the charges would be dropped. He estimated about one prosecution a year which, for the whole state, would mean about 45 annually.
Berger thought the licensing of the vehicles would somehow make it easier to identify the trespassers but it is difficult to imagine one catching a 4 by 7 inch (or smaller) license tag number moving across a field a few hundred yards away.
The next step the bill takes to becoming law is the Senate Finance Committee. Legislators can be reached by calling 919-733-4111 or via email at the legislative website, ncleg.net.
So beyond the millions invested to address a constituent issue in rural Franklin County is the questionable effectiveness of the solution. Will a small “registration plate or sticker” actually help identify distant trespassers on a moving vehicle? Will an owner now try to ride on the highway equipped with a shiny new tag? Will one owner sell a dirt bike for $500 to a neighbor and then both go down to the local DMV and spend a few hours getting the paperwork worked out?
Looks like these may be the 25 million dollar questions.
Sen. Eddie Goodall
R – Union/Mecklenburg