For Immediate Release
AUGUSTA - Over Republican objections, the Maine House of Representatives on Monday enacted LD 911, a bill to increase all-terrain vehicle (ATV) registration fees by $5. The fee hike bill, sponsored by Rep. Sheryl Briggs (D-Mexico), had received a divided 8-5 endorsement from the legislature's Inland Fisheries & Wildlife (IF&W) Committee and is intended to bolster the ATV Recreational Management Fund. The House enacted the bill with a 92-51 vote that fell along party lines.
"Once again, Democrats are taxing Maine people to cover costs at state agencies because all the funding in the budget is going to pay for more and more welfare," said Rep. Paul Davis (R-Sangerville), the ranking House Republican on the IF&W Committee. "We're passing tax hikes and fee increases left and right along party lines and they're not big ones, but they all add up."
MaineCare spending over the past 15 years has nearly doubled as a share of the state budget, increasing from 13 to 25 percent. This heightened spending on welfare for increasingly young and able-bodied populations has had the effect of crowding out funding for non-entitlement priorities such as law enforcement, transportation, and natural resource management. Non-DHHS and non-education spending now account for less than 20 percent of the state budget.
"It's a small amount, but it's the principle of the matter," said House Republican Leader Ken Fredette of Newport. "We have to stop raiding the pockets of hardworking Mainers to pay for an ever-expanding state government, and we have to learn to say 'no' to more welfare spending because it hinders our ability to pay for other priorities, such as the ATV Recreational Management Fund."
The $5 fee hike represents a 15 percent increase from the current $33 resident ATV registration fee. The $5 increase would also apply to nonresidents, who currently pay $53 for a seven day registration and $78 for a one-year registration. The bill faces a vote in the Senate before moving on to the Governor's desk. In March, Democrats tried to enact a 50-67 percent increase in municipal agency fees for motor vehicle licensing and registration, but the measure failed when the Governor vetoed it and House Republicans sustained his veto.
Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Commissioner Chandler Woodcock testified in opposition to the bill because it is a "direct fee increase."
Maine House Republicans
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