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by Jake Stump
Daily Mail Capitol Reporter

The Kanawha County Commission is urging the House of Delegates to pass a Senate-approved bill that would ban all-terrain vehicles on paved roads.

Though Kanawha County is the first and only county in West Virginia to ban the operation of ATVs on public roads, paved and unpaved, officials are still lobbying for stricter regulations on the vehicles statewide.

Commission President Kent Carper said having a uniform, statewide ban on ATVs would be more effective and enforceable than a county ordinance.

On Wednesday, Carper sent a letter to Kanawha County's legislative members urging action on the ATV bill passed by the Senate. The bill has been referred to the House Roads and Transportation Committee.

Delegate Corey Palumbo, D-Kanawha, who has pushed for safer ATV laws in the past, said the bill is a definite improvement, but far from perfect.

The legislation would still allow ATV riders to drive on the berm of paved roads for up to 10 miles, or on the far right side of the road without a berm. It also exempts riders using ATVs for farm use, oil and gas drilling, surveying and other business purposes.

"I'm a little concerned with being able to be on the side of the road for 10 miles," Palumbo said. "That's kind of high. But once you tinker with things like that, support starts to fade away from the bill. You'll lose more and more people who will support it.

"It doesn't sound like a perfect bill, but it's an improvement over the situation right now."

Despite his personal support for the bill, Delegate Ron Walters, R-Kanawha, doubted it would gain enough votes for approval in the House.

"Given their history, no, I don't think they'll do anything with it," Walters said. "I'm not encouraged, but I would encourage them to pass it."

Walters noted that ATV accidents are more prone to occur on paved roads because riders can gain higher speeds.

Delegate Nancy Peoples Guthrie, D-Kanawha, also supports the bill, but she said she's unsure if it will gain any traction in the House.

"I don't know how it will do here," Guthrie said. "As one vote, I'm delighted it came over here from the Senate. It's a piece of legislation that's time is well past due."
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