A bill pending in Mississippi's capitol would make it harder to steal ATVs, but legislators need to hurry if they want to pass it.
House Bill 45 would require owners to register their ATVs and other off-road vehicles in a statewide database overseen by the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks. A $10 per vehicle fee would pay for a vehicle decal and revenues would then maintain the database. Law enforcement would have legal authority to confiscate an ATV without a decal until the person could show proof of ownership.
Rep. Bryant Clark, D-Pickens, drafted the bill to address what he calls an epidemic of ATV thefts. "There's no tracking or anything in the state," he told the Jackson Clarion-Ledger. "Law enforcement is telling me that this is the tool they need to curb some of the ATV thefts."
After a cache of more than 30 ATVs stolen from Franklin, Adams, Amite, Lincoln and Wilkinson counties was found in March 2009, the culprits were arrested but it was difficult and time-consuming to return the vehicles to their owners. Lincoln County Sheriff Steve Rushing says finding the owners was a grueling process that involved manufacturers and other law enforcement agencies.
"Last year when we were looking at this bill originally, we got some information from the Department of Insurance that people who have their ATVs registered will see a significant decrease in their premiums as far as having it insured," he says.
Parties opposing the bill object to the $10 fee.
The bill has been referred to the Ways and Means and Wildlife Fisheries and Parks committees. If no action is taken on the bill by Tuesday, it will die.
Posted by Holly Wagner
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