[r63] New laws for winter

Posted by: Zach Weismiller  | Friday, November 1, 2013

Just a few weeks ago, we were celebrating the arrival of autumn in Indiana. The recent cold spell makes me think we’re going to have a longer winter than normal, but I’m hoping the beautiful fall weather lasts a few weeks longer. With this, I got to thinking about the various laws we passed that more closely pertain to the colder months and how they will benefit Hoosiers. 

One of these laws states that as of December 31, 2013, the responsibility for the registration of off-road vehicles and snowmobiles will be in the hands of the Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV). Currently, this responsibility lies with the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). 

This may not seem very significant but if you have ever had to register a snowmobile, this comes as a pleasant change. As you may know, before we passed this law, if you wanted to register your snowmobile, you had to deal with not just one but two state agencies. You also had to make a trip to Indianapolis because that’s the only DNR location in the entire state. 

Now, Hoosiers across the state will be able to go to just one place, their local BMW, where registration can be completed in just minutes. This also means that police officers will no longer have to call in an off-road tag to dispatch who would then have to contact DNR. The registration information will now be readily available in the law enforcement database.   

This not only makes the registration process simpler to complete, but it also makes important changes to the way the government agencies operate in regards to these vehicles. This was a change I was eager to support as it brings clarity and efficiency; qualities that I feel are essential for government to operate effectively. 

Another new law deals with a variety of issues regarding fish and wildlife. For instance, it repeals certain prohibitions against the possession or use of a noise suppressor while hunting.  However, it does make hunting on private land without the permission of the owner a Class B misdemeanor if the person does so while using or possessing a noise suppressor.   

In addition, this law allows the Natural Resources Commission to set license fees to hunt certain birds and establishes an expiration date for certain yearly hunting and fishing licenses. A current provision stating that nonresidents must purchase additional hunting licenses if the nonresident’s state of residence requires the same of an Indiana resident has also been removed. Nonresidents must acquire a special license to shoot on licensed shooting preserves in Indiana though.  

These changes are designed to grant certain administrative powers to DNR and bring Indiana’s DNR up to speed with our adjacent states. In particular, the new provision allowing hunters to have suppressors brings a hearing safety measure to Indiana that over half of states already have in place. It is important to note that suppressors cannot be acquired without an FBI background check, and they do not fully silence noise, rather they just suppress it to provide a more manageable noise level for hunters.  

These laws, ones that keep government lean and are common sense, are the types of laws I continue to support and encourage. As you prepare for winter and the fun that accompanies winter activities, such as snowmobiling and hunting, keep these new laws in mind and most importantly, have fun, stay warm and be safe!