Chris Essig

Walkthroughs, tips and tricks from a data journalist in eastern Iowa

UPDATE – “Whoops: New law accidentally bars farmers from using ATVs”

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UPDATE (2/17) – Here is the story:

SPRINGFIELD — Farmers barred from using all-terrain vehicles to access their fields could catch a break under legislation that gained initial support from lawmakers Tuesday.

A Senate committee voted 11-0 to approve the measure, which would exempt farmers using ATVs from new regulations governing low-speed, non-highway vehicles.

And the link.

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UPDATE (2/16 at 6:30) – A Senate committee unanimously supported a measure that would exempt farmers from the state law.  I’ll have a link when it’s posted online.

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ORIGINAL POST: I wrote this a week ago but here it is anyways:

SPRINGFIELD — A new state law that attempted to clear up some of the confusion concerning low-speed, non-highway vehicles has unintentionally barred farmers from using all-terrain vehicles on local roads.

Now, the same lawmakers who pushed for the law are working to undo some of it by exempting farmers from its provisions.

Starting this year, municipalities were given the power to approve ordinances legalizing ATVs, golf carts and other low-speed vehicles on their roads. Before the law went into effect, many were unsure if they could.

The new law, however, trumped a similar measure approved three years ago that gave farmers great leeway when operating ATVs on rural roads to get from field to field. Because ATVs are now included in the same law that governs other low-speed vehicles, the new restrictions apply.

And the link.

This issue came to our attention after reading a farming publication. Obviously this was a bit of a screw up that may be fixed this legislative session. But in the mean time, farmers are in a bit of a bind:

Lyle Gallagher, a farmer from Sadorus, has owned an ATV for five years and uses it because normal-sized cars are impractical in the fields.

“It’s like my right arm,” he said.

This isn’t the first time I’ve covered low-speed vehicles. While at the Journal Gazette Times-Courier, I wrote about a small community in eastern Illinois that decided to pass an ordinance allowing golf carts on their roads. The new law was supposed to clear up some of the confusion concerning low-speed vehicles because not every community was sure if they could pass a similar ordinance. Now they can. But as I noted, ATVs are now inadvertently barred on unmarked highways, which are heavily used by farmers. Be on the look out for this to be corrected this session. I will be covering the new laws as they work their way through the legislative process.

On a lighter note, nothing exemplifies the difference between Chicago bureaus and the Downstate bureaus quite like this story. I doubt the city of Chicago cares much about ATVs, golf carts and neighborhood vehicles. Our audience, however, will eat it up. The Southern ran it on the front page, above the fold. Go figure.

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Written by csessig

February 16, 2010 at 5:00 pm

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