It's the time of year we've all been waiting for, the spring, summer and fall ATV & UTV riding season is upon us! It's also time for something equally if not more important for your riding future. We need your help to get our much-anticipated funding legislation approved so we can continue our work that provides for current and future generations of riders and their families. For members that may not be aware, we've been working closely with some very pro-ATV state lawmakers the past year and a half, diligently crafting the wording that will restore our main funding source so we can again fully implement our tried and proven "safety enhancement program". You may recall lawmakers enacted what became Act 16, our original program which started way back in 2001, allowing our collective efforts to literally change, strengthen and give our sport a prominent place at the table that's at least equal with other forms of outdoor recreation here in the Badger state. Then suddenly, and we think inappropriately, one of the last actions of the 2015-2017 budget bill process removed our own, self-generated ATV dollars from funding our own safety enhancement program through a line-item veto by Governor Walker. If we can get these new bills passed, we'll have our ATV – UTV dollars restored so we can once again be at full strength, which is necessary for the well-being of our ever changing and still growing sport!
Here's what we're asking you to do on behalf of your organization and the sport you love. We need to flex our grassroots, political muscles. Our leadership team is asking each one of you to contact your own state representative and your state senator, asking them to support our bills. We're asking you to reach out to both. A short civics lesson to inject here. Wisconsin has 99 state assembly districts, which make up our state representatives. We have 33 state senate districts, which works out to 3 state representatives for each state senator. Each Wisconsin citizen has one state representative and one state senator who decides which bills to support or oppose, largely influenced by you and I, their voting constituents when we contact them. I would add, our ATV – UTV bills are truly bipartisan. This legislation isn't a democrat, independent or a republican issue, we literally work with and generally have support from both major parties and independents. Some lawmakers may personally oppose motorized recreation but this legislation is about our safety enhancement program which is a proactive management system.
If you're unsure how to find or reach your state representative and/or state senator, that part has been made easy. When you bring up the web link that follows, you'll be taken to a State of Wisconsin map, broken down by lawmaker districts. Simply move your mouse over the general area where you live and your state representative and state senator name and contact information will appear. There will be a picture of each of them, their phone number as well as their e-mail address that you can hyperlink to. The state web site http://maps.legis.wisconsin.gov/
So now you've located your state representative's phone and/or e-mail address. Whichever method you use to contact them, tell them you'd like them to support Assembly Bill 181, the "ATV safety enhancement program" bill. Don't be surprised if they tell you they co-sponsored it already. If by chance that occurs (10 representatives already have as of this writing), then thank them and let them know you support it as well.
When you contact your state senator, the bill number on that side of the legislature will be Senate Bill 124 (identical wording to the Assembly bill, just designated as Senate Bill with a different numbering).
You should express your own talking points as to why you support the bills but if you need highlights, the following 8 objectives are keystones of our safety enhancement program. It will certainly help whether you call or e-mail. I truly believe calling has the most impact but e-mails are better than taking no action at all. When you call in, ask for the lawmaker but don't be surprised if they aren't available when you call. Staff members will then answer the phone, take your message, then pass along to their boss whether you want them to support or oppose the bill. Sometimes they ask you for a little more information, thus the 8 key objectives below. Our bills are designed to support our sport by doing the following:
- Promoting the operation of ATVs &UTVs safely and responsibly in ways that do not harm the environment or conflict with rules and laws
- Provide advocacy support to existing clubs while helping start new ones
- Collecting key data related to trail and general riding to help establish trends and future priorities
- Continuously work toward ways to increase both current and future riders' involvement
- Inform communities and the public about the economic impacts that are gained when trail networks can be developed
- Continue building and strengthening relationships with the tourism industry, dealerships and businesses and other trail user groups while reaching out to groups that may not be aware about our sport
- Locating, recruiting, and continuously updating training for Trail Ambassadors and safety instructors
- Promoting the ATV & UTV image in a positive light based on ethical and responsible riding habits
To: *enter your Senator / Representative Email address here*
Subject: Please Support AB-181 / SB-124 to Restore Funding for the ATV / UTV Safety Enhancement Program
Dear *Senator/Representative name here*
My name is *insert full name here* I'm a member of the Wisconsin ATV / UTV Association and *insert other local clubs here, if any*.
I am contacting you on behalf of myself, as your constituent and on behalf of all the ATV / UTV riders in Wisconsin. I am asking that you support AB-181 & SB-124 which would restore funding to the ATV / UTV Safety Enhancement Program. This program helps to not only build and establish local area clubs throughout Wisconsin, but enhances the safety of the riders by promoting ethical riding habits, providing positive education programs in local communities and restores the successful volunteer trail patrol ambassador program.
Please support AB-181 and SB-124 so we may continue to build local area clubs and give them the tools to help promote the safe and responsible operation of ATVs and UTVs in ways that do not harm the environment or conflict with rules and laws.
Thank you for your support,
*sign your name here*
- Get a good feel or general understanding as to what our bills do by getting the funding re-established. Remember, the money for this legislation is already in place and besides, it's our ATV & UTV dollars we're talking here not general purpose tax revenue. We always have and are still proud to pay our own way in our program via our own ATV & UTV registration dollars.
- Find the contact information for your state representative and state senator.
- Call or e-mail both your representative and your state senator, identify yourself complete with your address, specify the bill number (AB 181 and SB 124) regarding the ATV safety enhancement legislation, asking them to support it. If they ask why, reference your own thoughts or feel free to use the 8 points above
Thanks in advance from the entire WATVA leadership team, we're counting on you so you can continue to count on us!
By: WATVA President Randy Harden