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Rep. Davids Introduces A Bike Tax

by Charlie Rybak on January 20, 2011 · 4 comments

Now that the MN GOP has taken over the Legislature, it’s good to see that they’re off to a good start cutting taxing and government regulation.  Starting, of course, by instituting a bike tax that requires every bike rider to carry a license when they ride.  

Rep. Greg Davids, the GOP’s new chair of the Taxes Committee, is really getting to work: He’s sponsored 15 bills already. I was initially impressed suspicious when I saw that number, and then I noticed this bill:
HF0024 – State trail bicycling pass required, and money appropriated.

The bill states that

a person 16 years of age or over shall carry in immediate possession a valid state trail bicycling pass. The pass must be available for inspection by a peace officer, a conservation officer, or an employee designated under section 84.0835.

Of course, the fee for the pass is $10 for an individual, with a $1 issuing fee tacked on top of that.  That amounts to an $11 tax for everyone hoping to ride the state’s bike paths. And once you pay the tax, remember that you are required to carry your license with you every time you go for a bike ride.

It’s great to see that the House GOP is already hard at work creating jobs for bike path police officers.

Mr Math January 20, 2011 at 10:13 am

Good catch.

I looked up the district for Rep. Davids. It’s 31B, the southeast corner of the state. I see at least 3 state parks in/near his district (Lake Louise, Forestville Mystery Cave, Beaver Creek Valley), a nearby state forest (Richard J. Dorer Memorial State Forest) and … yes, nearby bike trails: Shooting Star, Great River Ridge, Douglas, Root River & Harmony – Preston Valley (which runs through 31B)…    
According to the DNR maps, there are planned expansions to the Shooting Star and Great River Ridge Trails, but with our budget woes, I doubt they’ll happen.

ericf January 20, 2011 at 11:11 am

I’ll give a partial yes to the idea. It needs some changes. One, of course, is I don’t want to see anybody voting to raise fees and then pretending they never voted to raise taxes, especially when the fee goes beyond a reasonable recovery of costs and into producing revenue.

As far as the idea itself, it seems easy for an infrequent rider to forget to carry the license and incur a ticket. Verifying the license later on is a cost. Besides, state trails aren’t the only place bicyclists ride. There are a lot of other trails, and lanes on city streets, and there could be more, all of which entail costs. As a bicyclist, I get that even painting lanes costs something, especially if any work had to be done on the street to accommodate the lanes.

Minnesota used to have a voluntary license, $10 for three years, and the license was attached to the bicycle. I’d heard from the proprietor of a bike shop I was patronizing, and who did not sell licenses and stood to make no money, that these licenses made the recovery of stolen bikes highly likely.

So what I’m suggesting is apply the fee to all bikes, and use the money for all bicycling costs, not just state trails. Maybe the cities that sell the licenses keep part of the fee for local use. Make the license a sticker on the bike rather than paper to be carried so not only can’t owners forget to carry them, but stolen bikes can be returned to the owners.  

dyna January 20, 2011 at 5:52 pm

That’s the same amount as a snowmobile license, and they cause a lot more harm. And $10 is way too high considering that a car that weights 20 times as much can be licensed for as little as $30 or so a year. Taxes of less than $10 aren’t worth the bother, costs more to collect them than they raise in revenue.

ericf January 21, 2011 at 2:30 am

just like the old licenses. I thought $3 a year to have a bicycle easy to identify and recover was cheap. That’s assuming a license stuck to the bike, not carried. That would be worthless.

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