Fact or Fiction ~ You asked we answered!


How do we develop new legislation? Let me describe the process - and the important role MSA members play. 
With a big unified voice these changes are accomplished at a faster rate of speed, if you have ever tried 
to fight city hall you know it is not accomplished alone.
Step 1: Identifying challenges
The process to change or make a new law really starts with you our members Grant Sponsors and Clubs. It all begins by identifying a challenge or regulatory hurdle that needs to be addressed or an opportunity that cannot be realized until a law is changed. Share what is happening in your community with us and any items that don’t make sense or prevent you from moving forward efficiently.
I can’t stress enough that we WANT to hear those things from you our members! There are only 2 full time employees here at MSA office, we can’t possibly be everywhere in the state. We need you to get involved, join and attend the meetings, we do understand that everyone does not have the time but how about attending a local club meeting? Join that local club, you will soon find that it does in fact take a village to keep snowmobilers riding! That kind of hands-on experience and information helps to see what really works (or don’t work) in the real world. It gives us direction and the background to answer more of the possible questions legislators may pose.
Step 2: Drafting decisions
Once we know what we need to fix, we have to figure out the best way to do it. This is where the details really matter. We take our time carefully identifying which section of statute to open, which subsection to work within, or whether to create a new act. Working within an existing statute can be limiting but is necessary when making changes to existing laws.
Then there are the definitions to consider. Michigan law contains a vast array of terms, some defined, some not defined, some defined differently depending on the section of statute you’re working within. You might be surprised how much a single word can influence a law. Words like “and” vs. “or” and “shall” vs. “may” make a huge difference in how regulators and the courts interpret meaning.
That said, we’re not entirely on our own. Other states have often tackled some of the items and changes we’re seeking. It’s important to review other state laws and legislation to see which pieces we can use here in Michigan. Legislators and multi-state businesses also appreciate when we consider other states’ actions and include the best possible pieces.
Step 3: Building support
Once the language to make the change we need is drafted, it’s time to build support for the change. We need to identify favorable bill sponsor or sponsors and bring those legislators up to speed on the changes we’re seeking. It’s important to find someone who will champion this change through the legislature. Given the sheer number of steps in the legislative process, it’s critical to find someone who will help you push the rock up the hill. The more people enthusiastically pushing, the easier and faster you’ll reach the top.
We also need to think through which legislative committee and chamber will be most favorable to start the bill in. While we can’t always get a bill directed where we hope it will go, it’s important to think through where there is more support or which committee may have room on its agenda. Political realities in an election year require us to make additional considerations: implications of legislators running against each other in primaries, political party dynamics and timing. Maybe legislators will want to take this up after an election if a vote could end up on a political mailer.
We also need to gauge support from other impacted industries. Before introducing a bill, we want to know who are our supporters, who will be neutral, and who will oppose our suggested changes. Once we know who falls into each of those categories, we can see if it’s possible to make changes to our draft legislation to move groups from opposition to support.
Step 4: Introduction
After identifying the problem, drafting the language to make the change, and building support, we’re ready to introduce a bill. The legislative process has lots of checks and balances in place in an attempt to ensure only good policy is made. So the bill’s introduction is when the real fun starts.
Can I get a replacement Historic Permit for my snowmobile?
Yes, you can replace the Historic Snowmobile decal…similar to the replacement of a regular snowmobile decal, $5.00 and the written request giving  the previous HSNO decal number, or a copy of the original HSNO registration is quite acceptable, and the customers’ name and mailing address.  Special Services Branch (SSB) MDOS – SSB  7064 Crowner Drive  Lansing, MI 48918  517-322-1473
Do Orv's have the legal right to use the official snowmobile trails in the state of Mich. during the official 
snowmobile season?
Depends on where the trail lies…State land multi use, yes…..private property trails, no.  ORV’s, on state land in the lower you will only be legal on a designated ORV trail. However sometimes the ORV trails are snowmobile trails…in that case they are legal.  In the UP on state land they will be legal on all land unless posted closed to ORV’s.   On Federal land again only on designated ORV trails and roads posted open.
What about the ensuing damage that takes place by 4 wheeler's during the season, especially after a snowfall 
or after grooming takes place before the snow has hardened somewhat?
MSA feels this is not acceptable..we are using our grooming dollars to repair the mess from another group.  We can tell you, that the grant sponsors can get help to repair the trails in the fall before the season and that does help ….but during the season is another story. This is the big question we are asking the DNR and Legislators.  MSA is working with a few legislators to change the law, so that only snowmobiles will be allowed on the trails from Dec 1 Through March 31. There is also conversation on the definition of a snowmobile.
Why should Trail Permit Holders be required to just sit back and say, oh well, that's the way it is?
We are not required to sit back and say oh well..but we both know that the wheels turn very slowly with the DNR and the government, rest assured MSA is working on this and hopefully we will see some changes soon. We do not intend to let this issue die down.  In the meantime, contact your legislator and tell them your thoughts..
I experienced an extremely rough trail, what can I do to find out why?
Sometimes, not always it appears that the group should be able to produce a great trail but the weather temps and snow conditions wreak havoc on their trail…There is not a grant sponsor out there that donates their time at night to groom to produce a crappy trail.  It is certainly irritating when you have a plan and ole Mother Nature flips your plan over however that’s Michigan weather… There is a poor trail report form on the MSA website under the page Forms you can use.  If you would fill out the form and return it to MSA we will be happy to forward your thoughts on to the DNR, MSA officers and SAW Committee members to see if we can find out why the trails were in less than desirable condition.
Could you tell me WHERE and WHO came up with the START DATE of December 1st for the trails to open...
The date was established shortly after the first snowmobile section of the Michigan Laws took effect in 1974. The reasons were that snowmobiler’s were interfering with the deer hunters season. This season had been from November 15-30 since 1954. You are right that there are limited times that you can go snowmobiling during that time. From 11:00 AM until 2:00 PM and after dusk until dawn. One of the other reasons were in the 70’s  the trails only existed on State of Michigan land.  Now we have approximately 50% of the trail on private property, much of it is on property that hunters own and do not want us spoiling their hunting experience. So that’s why the trails remain closed until December 1st. We have two sections of private lands that remained closed until after muzzle season for the same reason.
What is the SAW committee and why do we as snowmobilers need it?
The Snowmobile Advisory Workgroup is a group of 7 individuals appointed by the DNR director for 2-year terms. One individual is named chairperson. Three members of the committee must represent the Michigan Snowmobile Association, 1 MSA member from each of the DNRs 3 regions, 1 person represents the trail sponsors, one the business community and 2 at large trail users. This mix is designed to represent the broad spectrum of snowmobile trail users in the state of Michigan.
The purpose of the committee is to develop criteria for safety education and training programs, allocate funds for the improvement of recreational snowmobile trails, promulgate rules affecting snowmobile use in the state, implement a comprehensive plan for the use of snowmobiles in the state and implement recommendations made by snowmobile users.  The SAW is effectively the conduit to work out major differences between interested parties and generate solutions before going to battle in the legislature or media outlets. It will be a dark day for snowmobilers, for winter tourism, and for all the businesses in the state that rely on revenues generated by the snowmobiling community should we lose the SAW.
Which governor in the past wanted to take all or most of the money from the snowmobile trail system fund 
that is put in by all of us when we buy the annual trail permit?

John Engler did approach the subject in a budget meeting but was met with opposition from most of his republican colleague’s, so it went no further. During Governor Granholms  first term her staff also talked about balancing the budget on the backs of hunters, recreation and others. In response to that Representative Randy Richardsville sponsored Proposal 1 on the ballot in 2004 to protect all of the special funds in the Constitution. Before a governor could change the law to divert funds, not any more because Proposal 1 passed!
 Are rubber tracked UTVs Side by Sides like Polaris RZRs allowed on Michigan snowmobile trails. 
Tricky question, on state owned designated ORV trails in the lower peninsula  they would be allowed, on state owned land in the upper peninsula they would also be allowed. The issue is that only 25%  of the trails are on state owned land. So on the other 75% they would be illegal and that is where the issue is. They are not any signs that tell you when you enter private property. The federal land is a whole different issue. So unless you see a sign posting it open to ORV’s then I would say no.
What requirements does someone have to meet to be a member? Certain amount of meetings or volunteer time or anything like that?
Nope there are no requirements of you at all.  If you want to help, you have time to help that’s great! There are a few events each year that require more volunteers, we ask if members can help they do.. there is no requirement to do so however. Members make the voice of Snowmobilers bigger. We need that big voice when problems arise in the sport. Our legislators play a big part in the program so we want that voice to say x amount of Snowmobilers want this or we do not want that.
What is each landowner paid for the privledge to cross his private property?
300.00 per Mile and 75.00 per quarter mile or any portion less than 1/4 mile.


Have more questions?   Please email office@msasnow.org