West Virginia

House Committee looks at e-bikes | News, Sports, Jobs

CHARLESTON — The House Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources on Monday introduced four bills with financial implications.

First on the agenda was HB 2062, which aims to do this “Setting up rules and regulations for e-bikes that are closer to federal law.” Bicycling.com defines e-bikes as “Bikes with a battery-powered ‘assist’ that comes by pedaling, and in some cases with an accelerator pedal.”

As explained by House Counsel Anita Valentino, “The existing law does not define class 2 electric bikes or throttle bodies.” According to Valentino, the regulations only apply to Class 1 and 3 e-bikes because West Virginia does not currently recognize Class 2 e-bikes as bicycles. Only class 1 e-bikes are currently allowed on bike lanes and single or multi-use trails. If it had come into force, Valentino added, HB 2062, “allow the operation of all three classes of e-bikes where conventional non-electric bicycles are allowed”, and recognize that e-bike operators have the same rights and privileges as traditional cyclists.

“I hike a lot and ride a lot of trails, and I’ve almost had my elbows taken off even on conventional pedal bikes.” Del. George Street, R-Preston, said. “I see this as a door opener for more electric vehicle incursion onto our hiking and walking trails.”

In response to a question from Del. Ty Nestor, R-Randolph, regarding areas where e-bike use would be permitted, said Bill Sponsor Del. Heather Tully, R-Nicholas: “I can tell you that in drafting this bill we were hoping to adapt some of our rules to accommodate it [match] of the national park [rules] to enable additional tourism.”

“Say you’re coming to New River Gorge National Preserve — that person can go over and use the state parks, too,” Before realizing, Tully explained that a skilled cyclist could reach the same speeds on a conventional pedal bike as on an e-bike.

“And they are really very quiet”, added Tully. “They’re nowhere near the equivalent of a motorcycle in terms of performance or noise levels.”

HB 2062 was advanced by the committee and will now be referred to the House Judiciary Committee. Next on the agenda was HB 2309, which attempts to “request the Forest Service to create an online renewal process no later than July 1, 2023.”

Valentino again gave an overview and told the committee members: “The purpose of this bill is to streamline the managed forest land program renewal process by creating an online process. Applicable law does not provide for an online renewal process.”

If no information has changed from the previous year, Valentino explains, landowners can easily “Tick a box and submit the form.” However, if changes are required for renewal, these can also be completed online during the renewal process.

“Submitting the form online completes the renewal application but does not affect the costs associated with the initial application.” Valentino added. According to the text of the law, the cost of designing and implementing the online renewal process is estimated at US$62,730 for the first three months.

HB 2062 was advanced by the committee and will now be referred to the House Committee on Government Organization.

The last two bills on the agenda, Nestor said, prompted the committee to do so “Transition to Farming” HB 2439, which seeks a sales tax exemption for all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) sold for use as agricultural vehicles, and HB 2787, which proposes a similar tax exemption for the direct sale of animal feed, were debated by the committee with no or further questions. HB 2439 will now be referred to the House Judiciary Committee, while HB 2787 will be referred to the House Finance Committee.

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