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Lawmaker Wants to See Amish Pay Buggy Registration Fees
Wisconsin Ag Connection - 01/02/2008

A Wisconsin lawmaker plans to reintroduce a bill that would allow local governments to force Amish and others who travel by horse-drawn vehicles pay a registration fee their buggies. Rep. Joan Ballweg of Green Lake County introduced a similar measure in 2005, but it later failed. But an aide to Ballweg says she plans to reintroduce the measure again this year.

According to WCCN Radio, the idea comes from the fact that Wisconsinites pay for road maintenance through registration fees, gas taxes and local tax levy. But those who travel by buggy don't pay gas taxes or registration fees.

The 2005 bill would have set the registration fee for horse-drawn vehicles at $40. However, it would be up to local governments to enact the registration requirement, and the money would be paid directly to that local government to be used for transportation purposes.

"It does have some merit," says Clark County Highway Commissioner Randy Anderson. "You are using the roads and you are not really paying for your proportionate share."

Anderson has served has Commissioner for 18 years. He's seen the number of horse-drawn buggies grow exponentially.

Buggies cause a safety concern, but not too much damage to roads, Anderson says.

"Sometimes you'll have some damage if the horse has a larger carbide cleat on and you have fresh asphalt, you'll see some pitting. It's more cosmetic than it is structural."

Ballweg is waiting for a draft to return from the Legislative Reference Bureau.

Meanwhile, an official with Ballweg's office says Indiana has required plates for horse-drawn vehicles for nearly 60 years and Illinois recently enacted similar legislation.

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