By Mary Sell, Alabama Daily News
MONTGOMERY — Alabamians could have larger, heavier all-terrain and off-highway vehicles under a bill that cleared the Alabama Senate Friday.
“All the bill does is increase the weight allowed and the width of the wheel base, which at the end of the day makes the vehicles safer from flipping over,” said Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur. Orr said the bill was at the request of Polaris Industries. Its 1,700-employee factory is in Orr’s district in Limestone County. The popular Ranger side-by-side is made there.
According to Polaris, the demand is shifting from two-person ATVs to four- and six-person side-by-sides. To make the vehicles safer, they need lower centers of gravity, which require a wider footprint.
Orr’s bill changes state regulations to allow a width of up to 60 inches and weight of up to 1,500 pounds. And off-highway vehicle can now be up to 80 inches wide and up to 2,500 pounds.
“By increasing the maximum width and weight of recreational off-highway vehicles, this legislation will allow Alabama riders to have access to exciting new products that satisfy their demands while respecting the state’s safety and environmental imperatives,” the company said in a written statement.
The bill received a 30-0 vote from the Senate and now moves to the House. Because the Legislature is in a special session focused on a 10-cent gas tax increase, all other bills must get support from two-thirds of members in both chambers, instead of a simple majority.
If SB 1 doesn’t get through the House in this session, Orr’s already filed the same bill for the regular session that resumes March 19.
The Senate also approved and sent to the House Senate Bill 3, which increases regulations on golf carts and other low-speed vehicles on state highways.