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Proposed MT Tax: Bikers Register As ‘Invasive Species’

A new bill amendment in Montana requires out-of-state cyclists to purchase a $25 invasive species decal each calendar year.

Cycling Tax Proposed In Montana: Treated As Invasive Species

What do zebra mussels, milfoil, and cyclists have in common? A lot, apparently. Montana republican Scott Sales recently proposed an amendment to a state senate bill that would require nonresident cyclists buy, and affix, an “Invasive Species” decal. The proceeds would benefit the Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks.

Amended to Bill SB363, which revises laws related to aquatic invasive species, Section 4 is now titled “Nonresident Invasive Species Bicycle Decal.” Sen. Sales wants out-of-state cyclists to help keep Montana waterways clean by brandishing themselves with a shaming $25 sticker.

Coincidentally, Sen. Sales called cyclists “some of the rudest and self-centered people I’ve ever encountered,” during a senate diatribe last month. He demanded cyclists “put some skin in the game.”

With this bill, a shame-based cycling tax could soon be a reality.

Cycling Tax: The Good And The Bad

The bill, amended March 31, 2017, is working its way through Montana legislation. Currently, out-of-state visitors do not pay for Montana’s cycling infrastructure. This bill would be a first if introduced.

Melinda Barnes, executive director of Bike Walk Montana, told Bicycling Magazine the bill will negatively impact the state’s bike-tourism industry.

Out-of-state visitors to Montana contribute significantly to the state’s economy. Voices of Montana Tourism, a “united voice” for Montana Tourism, estimates the state’s 12 million non-resident visitors spend $3.5 billion there yearly. Obviously, not all of them ride bikes, but the bill slaps a tax on those that do.

While the fee may negatively impact the state’s bike tourism, it could also bolster cycling infrastructure. But that depends how the Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks chooses to spend the revenue.

As of April 5, 2017, the bill was slated for a hearing with the Department Natural Resources. Conclusive decisions will be made in the coming months.

Nate Mitka

Midwest born, Nate Mitka is based in the GearJunkie Denver office. He is an advocate of all outdoor activities and has developed some habits, like running without headphones, eating raw vegetables, and fixing the chain on his ratty old bike.