A recent Open Forum letter stated something to the effect that, "abortion isn't murder because it isn't illegal."
Because slavery wasn't illegal (under man's laws) did that make it any less of a sin?
Heartland concert was well done
Far too many people missed the Heartland Symphony Orchestra's concert last Sunday (April 6). As always, it was extremely well done and featured two remarkably talented young ladies, Beth Hauer, 17, playing the euphonium and Madeleine Steup, 14, playing the violin. In addition to playing flawlessly, both displayed amazing poise and grace while on stage and while being interviewed on the local TV. All members of the orchestra, particularly the two young ladies, deserve our thanks and a standing ovation.
Stephen A. Busch
Response to ATV letter
A recent Open Forum writer wonders why Sen. Paul Koering voted to increase the amount of unrefunded gas tax to ATVs. Very simply, because that is what an impartial study commissioned by the Legislature and departments of Natural Resources, Revenue, and Transportation recommended.
The ATV unrefunded gas tax provision alluded to was actually a governor's budget recommendation and came to the Taxes Conference Committee as a House position. To accuse Sen. Bakk of magically "inserting" this provision into the conference bill is not true and unfair.
These funds are a refund on gas taxes paid by ATVers across the state for gas not used on-road. The same gas tax refund also applies to gas purchased and used in snowmobile, boats, off-highway motorcycles, and off-road vehicles (ATV'er's get .0026 of the total fund). This is a decades old policy in Minnesota patterned after federal transportation policy.
That specific policy is to distribute these unrefunded gas taxes to the DNR so the department can use it to enhance the recreational activity for the good of all so we can have boat accesses, or ride on a well groomed snowmobile trail, or ride a motorcycle trail, or help develop an ATV trail system that will provide a well marked designated trail system and enforcement of our rules and regulations and provide for youth safety programs.
ATVing is a rapidly growing sport for people of all ages and is popular since they are usable all year and can be used for pleasure and utilitarian uses. Look around and you see people riding ATV's on a regular basis and not just for plowing snow or going ice fishing.
ATV's are here to stay and their owners pay taxes like everyone else and expect the same benefits.
Snowmobile Trail Funding
When snowmobilers buy gasoline for their snowmobile, the $.20 per gallon gas tax that is paid, goes into the snowmobile dedicated account. In studies by the Legislature, they have determined that 1 percent of the state's annually gas tax revenues are attributed to snowmobile gas purchases. This is approximately $5 million each year.
Snowmobilers also pay registration and trail permits for the trail program. The amount appropriated by the legislature to fund the program for 08/09 is $14.2 million. $8.4 million is paid to groom and maintain 20,000 miles of trails through grants-in-aid and the balance goes to the DNR for program administration, enforcement and grooming and maintenance of 2,000 miles of State snowmobile trails. No general fund dollars pay for the snowmobile program.
Grants-in-aid funds are paid to a local unit of government based on the miles in a trail system and generally a snowmobile club does the trail maintenance and grooming. The funds pay for equipment, fuel, bridges, signage, and insurance necessary to do the trail work. The grants are based on an average reimbursement of 65 percent of equipment use and labor for snowmobile trail maintenance and 90 percent of the cost of the equipment use and labor used for trail grooming. Club members volunteer their time to pay for the work on the trails which they are providing to the public.
Minnesota's snowmobile trail system is the backbone of winter tourism in the state. With a snowmobile trail system budget of $14.2 million, a conservative $200 million is generated in tourism dollars. A recently completed economic study reports the snowmobile effect on Minnesota includes 8,000 jobs with wages and salaries of $245 million; $529 million in gross state product; $1 billion in gross receipts/sales and $56 million in state and local tax revenues.
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