State Sen. Patty Ritchie wants to lift some of the restrictions on the use of utility task vehicles in New York state. Right now, UTVs can only be used legally on private property and cannot be registered in the state of New York. Smaller ATVs weighing up to 1,000 pounds can be widely used and registered with the state.
Ritchie's bill would raise the limit to register UTVs to 1,500 pounds, which would include many popular models. The senator promoted her legislation in Albany recently by presenting two UTVs side by side. She says one was slightly under the current weight limit and the other was a few pound heavier.
"The one that was a couple pounds over is really the more desirable vehicle for somebody to be out, safety wise, because it has power steering," Ritchie said. "Just because the vehicle is now equipped with power steering, that put it over the limit."
She also says New York is the only state in the nation to not allow heavier UTVs to be registered.
"The state is missing out on sales tax and registration fees," Ritchie explained. "And this is an opportunity to have those be able to enjoy the outdoors. Many that are looking to use them are senior citizens that are not able to ride an ATV, but they're able to sit side-by-side."
Ritchie says according to dealers from outside of New York, UTVs account for about 40 percent of sales of these vehicles. She says her legislation passed the Senate each of the last three years, but the Assembly has yet to act on the legislation.
But environmental groups like the Adirondack Council oppose the legislation, saying the heavier vehicles should remain off state and public trails because they would cause erosion, along with water and air pollution. The groups have asked Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver to block the bill.