Putting Utility Task Vehicles on the road and on the trail. It could mean a big boost for the economy in the North Country, but others say it could be a detriment to the environment.
Right now, Utility Task Vehicles, or UTVs, weighing over 1,000 pounds cannot be registered in the state of New York. But, a bill has passed the state senate upping that weight restriction to 1,500 pounds.
The bill would essentially redefine All Terrain Vehicles, so that heavier UTVs could legally be registered in New York. Republican assemblyman for the 117th district, Ken Blankenbush says the change could draw people from all over to the North Country.
And it is up to Blankenbush's colleagues in the assembly to pass the bill. The bill has passed the senate for the past three years, but is held up in the state assembly. Advocates of the bill say New York could generate millions of dollars in revenue if the bill became law.
"Here is a money-making sales tax revenue source that we could be getting in Upstate New York," said Blankenbush. "And through the whole state of New York, and we're stopping it. And the stopping it just doesn't make any sense."
Democratic assemblywoman Addie Russell also supports the bill. She says it is hung up in the assembly because of the impacts of the increased weight on the environment.
"That's really the crux of the matter," said Russell. "The fact that these vehicles are getting heavier as each new model is brought out, and the laws set a specific weight and anything over that can't be registered."
Opponents of the bill say a vehicle weighing sometimes twice what an ATV weighs could be bad for the environment. Anytime a UTV leaves the road or the trail, it could leave a bigger mark than a four-wheeler.
Thursday, February 11, 2016, Watertown, NY