Deja Vu: UTV-Friendly Bill Passes Senate Transportation

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By Jude Seymour

We have all been here before.*

The Senate Transportation Committee has passed a bill to increase the maximum weight of all-terrain vehicles, legislation that would allow residents to legally register and ride side-by-side ATVs on trail systems statewide.
If that sounds familiar to riding enthusiasts, it should. I wrote almost the same exact sentence in a Watertown Daily Times article last May.
Here's what the bill would do: Increase the defined weight of an ATV from 1,000 pounds to 1,500 pounds so that side-by-sides and other utility terrain vehicles, such as those used for farm chores, could be registered. That would mean revenue for the state.
Darrel Aubertine, the sponsor of last year's version of this bill, was ousted from his seat during last fall's elections. His successor, Patty Ritchie, has taken up the bill.

This is inside-baseball stuff, but this sort of fascinates me.

See, this bill has been around for a while. In fact, Joe Griffo had it in 2008.

Democrats took over the Senate in 2009. Griffo re-submitted his bill - and it went nowhere.

On the same day Aubertine introduces the almost same exact bill, Griffo makes a motion to his version unstuck. The motion fails, with Aubertine casting the deciding vote against it.

Griffo told me at the time that these sort of partisan shenanigans are indicative of the "absurdity of Albany." The senator said the old Republican majority - Joe Bruno era - wouldn't even allow a minority member to co-sponsor most bills, which was "equally absurd."

“We've made some changes in the rules,” he said last May. “But I don't think we've made substantial progress where we can avoid this ridiculousness.”

I wonder why the bill didn't go back to Griffo. Perhaps Ritchie can make this bill boldly go where this bill hasn't gone before.

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Wednesday, November 26, 2014
, Watertown, NY

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