Folks in Wisconsin who drive horse-drawn buggies may soon have to pay to share the road.
Rep. Bob Kulp, R-Stratford, and Sen. Howard Marklein, R-Spring Green, introduced legislation to allow counties to charge up to $100 for all animal-drawn vehicles that share public roads.
"In many rural communities, our roads are shared by regular traffic, agricultural implements, commercial trucks and animal-drawn vehicles," Marklein said. "Unfortunately, several of our communities have experienced difficulty in managing the animal-drawn vehicle traffic, especially when there is an accident or damage to the road."
Both he and Kulp say there are sometime problems in identifying who was driving a buggy, or who it belongs to.
"There has been a spike in our district in Amish buggy accidents causing nine deaths in the past several years. Several county boards in our area including Wood, Clark, and Jackson County have proposed regulations to the Amish Community in regards to their Amish buggies," Kulp said.
"It is important to ensure that the rights of the Amish are respected while also understanding the perspective of our local governments, who are concerned with the safety of everyone who uses the roads," Kulp continued. "Local law enforcement has informed us that registering animal-drawn vehicles will help them identify the owners of animal drawn vehicles, which in turn will help them enforce safety standards on the roads we all use."
Kulp's and Marklein's proposal doesn't require horse and buggy owners to register, and it would have counties handle the registration process.
"This bill will allow a county, if they so choose, to begin registering animal-drawn vehicles which use the roads in that county," Kulp added. "The county will be able to charge up to a $100 registration fee, which can be used for administration of the registration process and/or other transportation needs."
The Wisconsin Towns Association supports the proposal. But the Wisconsin Horse Council opposes the idea.