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HOUSE  .   .   .   .   .   .   .  No. 3856

 

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts
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                               HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, January 21, 2014.                         

 

The committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture to whom were referred the petition (accompanied by bill, House, No. 715) of Anne M. Gobi and others for legislation to establish a snowmobile educational safety program, reports recommending that the accompanying bill (House, No. 3856) ought to pass.

 

For the committee,

 

ANNE M. GOBI.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HOUSE DOCKET, NO.                 FILED ON: 1/17/2014

HOUSE  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  No. 3856

 


The Commonwealth of Massachusetts
 

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In the Year Two Thousand Fourteen

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An Act establishing a snowmobile educational safety program.
 

Whereas, The deferred operation of this act would tend to defeat its purpose, which is to promote the safe operation and recreation of snow vehicles, therefore, it is hereby declared to be an emergency law, necessary for the immediate preservation of the public safety.
 

              Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:
 

              SECTION 1. Section 2 of chapter 21 of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2012 Official Edition, is hereby amended by striking out, in line 2, the figure “13” and inserting in place the following figure:- 14.

              SECTION 2. Section 2A of said chapter 21, as so appearing, is hereby amended by inserting after the first paragraph the following paragraph:-

              The commissioner shall request the board of directors of the Snowmobile Association of Massachusetts, or its successor organization, to nominate 3 candidates for 1 additional member of the council. From the nominations received from the board, the commissioner shall select 2 candidates whom he shall recommend to the governor. The governor shall appoint the 1 additional member of the council from the candidates recommended.

              SECTION 3. Chapter 29 of the General Laws, is hereby amended by inserting after section 2KKKK, the following section:-

              Section 2LLLL.There shall be set up on the books of the Commonwealth a separate fund to be known as the Recreational Trail Land Acquisition Trust Fund.

              Amounts credited to the trust fund may be expended without appropriation, by the commissioner of the department of recreation and conservation for the department to acquire interests in land, including ownership, easements and leases, for the primary purpose to establish public snow vehicle recreational trails. Snow vehicle trails established on such acquired land shall be designated and marked by the department.

              Unless restricted by law, deed, covenant or the nature of the interest in land so acquired, any part of such land, may, as allowed by the commissioner, also be utilized during anytime of the year for: (i) other recreational and open space purposes, (ii) agriculture, and (iii) other uses existing at the time such interest is acquired and any future uses, provided a declaration that sets forth in detail each existing and future use, signed by the commissioner is filed in the appropriate registry of deeds upon such acquisition.  Notwithstanding, the commissioner shall not allow any other utilization of such land that will hinder significantly or affect adversely, the public’s seasonal use of snow vehicle trails so established.

              The trust fund shall consist of all revenues to be credited in accordance with subsection (b) of section 21C of chapter 90B, any appropriations and authorizations of the general court and such other amounts to be expressly credited to the trust fund from any other source to include, any public or private donations, grants, repayments and other receipts.  The state treasurer as the custodian and treasurer of the trust fund, shall receive and deposit in accordance with state law, all monies credited to the trust fund to provide the highest rate of interest consistent with the safety of the monies so deposited,  All accrued fund investment income shall be credited to the trust fund.

              Prior to expending any monies from the trust fund, the commissioner shall consult with the Snowmobile Association of Massachusetts. 

              Monies deposited into the trust fund that are unexpended at the end of the fiscal year shall not revert to the General Fund and shall be available in the following fiscal year. No expenditure made from the trust fund shall cause the trust fund to become deficient at any point during a fiscal year.

              SECTION 4. Section 20 of chapter 90B of the General Laws, as so appearing in the                2012 Official Edition, is hereby amended by inserting, after the definition of “directly supervised” the following definition:-

              “Director” the director of law enforcement of the office of law enforcement, or his authorized designee.

              SECTION 5. Said section 20 of said chapter 90B is hereby further amended by inserting, after the definition of “Law Enforcement Officer” the following definition:-

              “Office of Law Enforcement” or “Office of Environmental Law Enforcement”, the office of law enforcement established under section 10A of chapter 21A, also commonly known as the Massachusetts Environmental Police.

              SECTION 6. Said chapter 90B is hereby further amended by inserting after section 21 the following 3 sections:-

              Section 21A. No person under 14 years of age shall operate a snow vehicle. Notwithstanding this provision,

                    (i) a person who is under 14 years of age and no younger than 12 years of age, may operate a snow vehicle when under the direct supervision of another who is 18 years of age or older;

                    (ii) a person who is under 12 years of age and no younger than 10 years of age, may operate a snow vehicle on land where he is domiciled, when under the direct supervision of another who is 18 years of age or older; and

                    (iii) a person who is under 10 years of age may operate a size and age appropriate snow vehicle on land where he is domiciled, when under direct supervision of another who is 18 years of age or older, provided the snow vehicle has a stock engine capacity of no greater than 150 cubic centimeters.

              A person who is allowed to operate a snow vehicle under clause (ii) or (iii) may operate the vehicle only at such specified location and with the permission of the land owner, notwithstanding any other law or regulation to the contrary.

              Section 21B. (a) No person who is 12 years of age and older, and was born after July 1, 1997, shall operate a snow vehicle in the Commonwealth unless such person has successfully completed a director approved safety education program for the operation of snow vehicles, and has obtained in his name, a certificate of completion issued for such program.

              Notwithstanding, the requirements of the prior paragraph shall not apply when such person is:  (i) 14 years of age or older, and is operating a snow vehicle on land owned by such person or his spouse, or on land owned by a parent, sibling, grandparent, step-parent, step-sibling or legal guardian, of such person or his spouse; (ii) operating a snow vehicle under the direct supervision of an instructor for such program certified by the director; or (iii) exempted by regulation of the office of law enforcement.             

              A person who is required to obtain a certificate of completion to operate a snow vehicle, shall, when operating the vehicle, possess the certificate, and upon demand of a law enforcement officer, shall produce the certificate and allow the officer to examine the document. A person shall have an affirmative defense against a charge for the failure to produce the certificate as required, if before or at trial on such charge, the certificate that was issued in the person’s name and that is considered to be valid when the violation occurred, is given to the court or trial justice.

              (b) The director shall establish a safety education program for the operation of snow vehicles. Such program shall include a minimum of 6 hours of instruction and be available to the public in various director approved locations across the Commonwealth. The director shall consult with the Snowmobile Association of Massachusetts for advice prior to the establishment or substantial change of such program, including content and curriculum, identification of  best snow vehicle operator’s safety practices and standards, and public access to such program. Notwithstanding, a segment of such program shall provide information on certain laws relative to snow vehicle safety and other operator requirements. The office of law enforcement shall make available on its public website any written educational program materials that the public may access and print. No fee shall be charged to participate in such program or to obtain related program information on such website.  

              The director or an authorized instructor designee for such program, shall issue a certificate of completion to a person in his name, who successfully completes such program. The certificate shall be valid for the lifetime of the person in whose name it was issued. Upon request, the director shall replace a prior issued certificate that was lost or destroyed, provided the office of law enforcement issued the certificate or has a record that the certificate had been issued in such person’s name. A replacement certificate shall be considered a valid substitute for the prior issued certificate. The director may impose a minimal fee for such replacement certificate.  A certificate of completion issued in the name of a person by another state, province or country that represents the successful completion of its equivalent safety education program for snow vehicles, as determined by the director, shall be valid in the Commonwealth to satisfy the safety education and certification requirements under this section. A list of other jurisdictions as determined to meet the requirements under the prior sentence shall be posted on the office of law enforcement’s public website    

              The director shall adopt regulations related to the statewide establishment and administration of such program, to include, the required qualifications to certify program instructors.

              Section 21C. (a) No registration for a snow vehicle shall be issued initially, renewed or transferred under section 22, unless the director or his authorized agent, issues a trail land acquisition stamp with the registration certificate for the vehicle. The indicia of said stamp shall be in such form as prescribed by the director, provided it is clearly imprinted or marked on the registration certificate. A trail land acquisition stamp assigned to a registration of a snow vehicle shall expire on the last day of the registration period, or earlier, upon the registration being surrendered, suspended or revoked. Each registration certificate issued, shall display a valid trail land acquisition stamp, and said stamp shall issue only in such manner.

              An application for a trail land acquisition stamp for a snow vehicle shall be made by the owner, to the director or his authorized agent, on such form and with the required information as the director shall prescribe. Said application shall be submitted with a completed registration application for the snow vehicle and all applicable fees as established under law or regulation. A person shall not knowingly make a false statement in an application for a trail land acquisition stamp. 

              The fee for a trail land acquisition stamp for a snow vehicle shall be: $5 for a stamp that issues with an initial or renewal registration of a 1 year period for the vehicle, and $10 for a stamp that issues with an initial or renewal registration of a 2 year period for the vehicle. Notwithstanding, no fee shall be collected for a trail land acquisition stamp for a snow vehicle: (i) owned by the Commonwealth or a political subdivision thereof, (ii) when the registration of such vehicle is exempt from registration fees at the time an application for the stamp is made to the director or his authorized agent, (iii) upon application made to the director or his authorized agent, to transfer to such vehicle a valid registration issued to another snow vehicle;  provided, both  vehicles have the same documented ownership, or (iv) when the applicant has paid a stamp fee for another snow vehicle, within 90 days from the date an application for said stamp is made to the director or his authorized agent; provided, the owner’s name and address on the registration of the other vehicle and the registration for the vehicle upon issuance with the stamp, will be the same.  

              The director shall be authorized to adopt regulations for the administration of this section.

              (b) All amounts collected for trail land acquisition stamps under subsection (a), shall be credited to the Recreational Trail Land Acquisition Trust Fund established under section 2LLLL of chapter 29.

              SECTION 7. Subsection (e) of section 26 of said chapter 90B, as so appearing, is hereby amended by inserting after the second paragraph the following 2 paragraphs:- 

              A person who operates a snow vehicle on publicly-owned property shall be required to have displayed on the vehicle a valid membership trail decal or label issued by a club, association or other organization that actively throughout the Commonwealth, promotes snow vehicle safety, performs maintenance of snow vehicle recreational trails on publicly-owned  and privately-owned property, and obtains certain authorizations to access property as described under clause (ii) of the first paragraph to further snow vehicle recreation. Said decal or label shall be issued to the vehicle of the member owner, by a club, association or organization that is approved by the director, and shall be affixed to the vehicle in the manner prescribed by regulation of the office of law enforcement.  Provided a required decal or label is so displayed, a person who is not the member issued said affixed decal or label, shall not be in violation of the provisions of this paragraph when operating the vehicle. This requirement shall not apply to a person who: (i) is an employee, agent or representative of any governmental entity when operating a snow vehicle for official use, (ii) has been issued a waiver subject to any restrictions, by the director, (iii) has been issued a waiver subject to any restriction, by the commissioner of the department of conservation and recreation when so operating on property under the custody and control of the department, (iv) is operating a snow vehicle on publicly-owned  property for a non recreational purpose, which was authorized by the property owner or a law enforcement official, or (v) is exempt by regulation of the office of law enforcement. 

              For the purpose of this subsection, the term “publicly-owned property” shall mean any ownership, easement and lease in real property, owned or acquired by the commonwealth or other governmental entity.

              SECTION 8. Said chapter 90B is hereby amended by inserting after section 26E the following section:- 

              Section 27F. Whoever, without right, knowingly operates a motor vehicle on wheels over a snow vehicle trail on public property shall be subject to a fine of $250 for the first offense and a fine of $500 for any subsequent offense.

              The provisions of this section shall not apply where the operation of the wheeled vehicle onto a snow vehicle trail occurred from an adjoining public way or place, or private way or place which members of the public are allowed access; unless, signage that prohibits the public use of a wheeled vehicle on the trail is posted conspicuously at such location.

              For the purposes of this section, the words, “snow vehicle trail”,  shall mean a path or road on publicly-owned property that is designated and marked as a trail for snow vehicles by the property owner, provided that during any period of such allowed use as may be established by the owner, the trail is closed to the public use of motor vehicles other than snow vehicles; and the words, “motor vehicle on wheels” or “wheeled vehicle”, shall mean a recreational vehicle as defined under this chapter, and a motor vehicle as defined under chapter 90, not excluding any motor vehicle used exclusively in the building repair and maintenance of highways; provided, such vehicle is designed to travel on one or more wheels in contact with the ground.

              SECTION 9. Notwithstanding the second paragraph of section 2A of chapter 21, as added by section 2 of this act, or any general or special law to the contrary, the appointment of the additional member to the stewardship council under said second paragraph of said section 2A of said chapter 21A shall be made within 90 days of the enactment of this act.

              SECTION 10. Notwithstanding section 21A of chapter 90B, as added by section 6 of this act, or any general or special law to the contrary, no penalty or liability shall be assessed or imposed, for a violation related directly to the snow vehicle operator age requirements and prohibitions under said section 21A of said chapter 90B or any related regulation, occurring before November 1, 2014.

              SECTION 11. On or before December 1, 2014, the director of the office of law enforcement in the executive office of energy and environmental affairs shall establish requirements for the authorization of safety education program instructor designees under section 21B of chapter 90B, as added by section 6 of this act.

              SECTION 12. On and after February 1, 2015, the office of law enforcement in the executive office of energy and environmental affairs shall post information on its public web site, as required under subsection (b) of section 21B of chapter 90B, as added by section 6 of this act, any written educational materials for the snow vehicle safety education program and a list of  acceptable completion certifications issued by other jurisdictions, which represents the successful completion of an equivalent snow vehicle safety education program; subject to the additional requirement that notice of any change to such information shall be posted on the website not less than 30 days in advance of the change.

              SECTION 13. Notwithstanding section 21B of chapter 90B, as added by section 6 of this act, or any general or special law to the contrary, no penalty or liability shall be assessed or imposed, for a violation related directly to the requirement for snow vehicle operators to complete successfully an approved safety education program and to possess and produce the required certification for such program under said section 21B of said chapter 90B or any related regulation, occurring before November 1, 2015.

              SECTION 14. On or before February 1, 2015, the director of the office of law enforcement in the executive office of energy and environmental affairs shall prescribe forms to make application for snow vehicle trail acquisition stamps under section 21C of chapter 90B, as added by section 6 of this act. Notwithstanding any contrary provision under said section 21C of said chapter 90B or any related regulation, no snow vehicle trail acquisition stamp shall be issued before April 1, 2015.    

              SECTION 15. Notwithstanding the third paragraph of subsection (e) of section 26 of chapter 90B, as added by section 7 of this act, or any general or special law to the contrary, no penalty shall be assessed or imposed for a violation of said third paragraph of said subsection (e) of said section 26 of said chapter 90B or any related regulation, occurring before November 1, 2014.

              SECTION 16. Notwithstanding section 27F of chapter 90B as added by section 8 of this act, or any general or special law to the contrary, no penalty shall be assessed or imposed for a violation by an operator of a motor vehicle of said section 27F of said chapter 90B or any related regulation, occurring before November 1, 2014.

              SECTION 17. Notwithstanding any provision under chapter 30A, or any general or special law to the contrary, the director of the office of law enforcement in the executive office of energy and environmental affairs, shall have the authority to adopt temporary emergency regulations without holding a public hearing, for section 21A of chapter 90B, as added by section 6 of this act, and the third and fourth paragraphs of subsection (e) of section 26 of chapter 90B, as added by section 7 of this act; provided, there are less than 150 days from the date this act takes effect until November 1, 2014. In the event emergency regulations are adopted, the director shall, within 90 days of the date that such regulations are filed with the secretary of state, hold a public hearing and adopt permanent regulations.  

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