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April 2014  Last October’s government shut down has caused some unusual problems. In the state of Virginia a federal judge will be hearing arguments between private operators of campgrounds located in U.S. Forest Service areas who claim it was an arbitrary and unnecessary decision to close those areas to camping. Because those campgrounds do not require federal money to operate they should have been allowed to stay open.

Two months ago it was reported that Iowa passed a law punishing RV owners that license and pay sales taxes through a LLC corporation set up in places like Montana and North Dakota. A Nebraska legislator has just introduced a similar bill, and the states of Massachusetts and California already have similar laws on the books.

The state of Idaho started a state passport pass system last year that residents could buy for $10.00 when they register their automobiles. The idea was to provide funds for differed maintenance for many state parks. Rising costs for basics like personnel, utilities and fuel used most of the new passport funding. The Idaho governor has had to increase funding requests in his annual budget to maintain state parks.

In New Hampshire legislation has been submitted to clarify taxation on RV’s. The current laws allow taxing trailers that are permanently located on campgrounds as real property. This would include trailers “intended to remain stationary.” The new legislature will correct this oversight.

A new ordinance in Odessa, Texas prohibits anyone in the city from parking their vehicles on unpaved ground or storing their units in driveways. This has created an opportunity for land owners to provide suitable storage for RV’s, cars, or boats.

The people of Louisiana Parrish of Lafayette have received a reprieve on a new ordinance that bans the use of travel trailers as permanent homes in unincorporated areas. The legislation is considered too restrictive and will be re-worded. In Calcasieu Parrish a new re-zoning ordinance will be developed separately for RV parks. Currently mobile home parks and RV parks use the same zoning requirements.

In several areas of the country, Louisiana, and Mississippi today, housing shortages caused by industrial building booms have created the need for using RV trailers for temporary housing. Both of these states welcome the job opportunities but want to carefully manage the park requirements to avoid uncontrolled squalor.

The RVIA has successfully exempted the RV industry from a bill in New Jersey that would require all RV manufacturers to provide information so any mechanic could repair RV’s. In some cases this could include proprietary information.

And just when you think all is sacred, an opinion by Eric Hammerling, the Connecticut head of Forest and Parks Association states “all state forest lands are not in perpetual preservation.” Lands can be traded, sold or in other ways exchanged. Even if the swap is denied, the state legislature can pass a law voiding the original intent, and in fact every year some bill is introduced in Connecticut for that purpose.

 

 

Montana Lawyer

 

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