2001 - 2002 LEGISLATURE
February 20, 2001 - Introduced by Senators Breske, Cowles, Decker, Baumgart
and Schultz, cosponsored by Representatives Wade, Ryba, Kestell,
Gunderson, Johnsrud, Gronemus, Townsend, Kreuser, Albers, Olsen,
Pettis, Nass, Lippert, Kreibich, Kaufert, Petrowski, Sykora and Vrakas.
Referred to Committee on Insurance, Tourism, and Transportation.
1An Act to repeal
350.137 (3), 350.138 (8) (a) and 350.1395 (1) (a); to renumber
350.138 (4), 350.138 (5), 350.138 (8) (b) and 350.1395 (2) (b); to
350.137 (1), 350.137 (2) (a), 350.138 (2), 350.138 (3), 350.138 (6), 4
350.138 (9), 350.139 (1) (a), 350.139 (3), 350.139 (4) (intro.), 350.139 (4) (a), 5
350.139 (4) (b), 350.139 (5), 350.1395 (title), 350.1395 (2) (a), 350.1395 (3) and 6
350.1395 (4) (b); and to create
195.03 (30), 195.307, 350.138 (2m), 350.138 (4) 7
(a) 1., 2., 3. and 4., 350.138 (4) (b), 350.138 (4) (c), 350.138 (4) (d), 350.138 (4) 8
(e), 350.138 (5) (b), 350.138 (5) (c), 350.1395 (2) (b) 2. and 350.1395 (2) (b) 3. of 9
the statutes; relating to: the regulation of snowmobile rail crossings.
Analysis by the Legislative Reference Bureau
Current law regulates snowmobile rail crossings (crossings) that are not
located on highways or streets. Under that law, only a snowmobile organization may
construct a crossing. Current law defines a "snowmobile organization" as a
snowmobile club, a snowmobile alliance, or a county. In order to construct a crossing,
the snowmobile organization must obtain a permit from the department of natural
resources (DNR). Current law also regulates established crossings which are
defined as crossings that have been used by snowmobiles for at least five winters of
the last ten years. This bill makes changes to certain procedures and requirements
under current law that apply to snowmobile organizations and to rail authorities
that construct or maintain crossings. Those changes include the following:
1. Under current law, DNR must promulgate rules to establish uniform
maintenance standards and uniform design and construction standards for
crossings after consulting with the snowmobile recreational council. Under this bill,
DNR must instead consult with an established snowmobile association that
represents snowmobile clubs and with the office of the commissioner of railroads.
2. The bill requires each rail authority that has rail lines in this state to
designate an agent who is authorized on behalf of the rail authority to receive copies
of crossing permit applications filed with DNR and requires DNR to send copies of
crossing permit applications to the designated agents of the applicable rail
3. Current law requires DNR to approve or deny a crossing permit application
within 60 days after receipt and provides that DNR may deny the application only
if DNR determines that the proposed crossing does not comply with rules
promulgated by DNR. The bill provides that DNR must approve the application
within 90 days of sending a copy of the application to the rail authority's designated
agent, if certain conditions are met. The conditions require, among other things, that
the permit applicant contact the rail authority to discuss the advisability and
feasibility of the proposed crossing, that the application comply with certain rules
promulgated by DNR and that the rail authority not object to the application. The
bill establishes a hearing procedure that applies if the rail authority does object to
the application. The bill requires that the office of the commissioner of railroads give
testimony at such a hearing addressing certain issues, including whether the
proposed rail crossing could pose a substantial danger to public safety.
4. Under current law, DNR may charge an initial application fee not to exceed
$150. The bill requires that in addition to this fee an applicant who receives a permit
must pay the rail authority $1,500 to compensate the rail authority for the cost of
construction and to pay for the use of the crossing by snowmobile operators.
5. Under current law, a snowmobile organization must maintain liability
insurance to indemnify the applicable rail authority for damages resulting from the
design, construction, or maintenance of a crossing for which there is a permit. Under
the bill, the insurance must also indemnify the rail authority for damages resulting
from the existence or use of the crossing. The bill also provides that the snowmobile
organization need not maintain the insurance to indemnify the rail authority for
injuries sustained by a person engaged in a recreational activity if the rail authority
would be immune from liability for those injuries under current law.
6. Under current law, the initial term for a crossing permit is 11 years. The
permit may be renewed for additional periods of time not to exceed 11 years per
renewal. This bill eliminates the term limit for a crossing permit.
7. Under current law, only DNR is authorized to inspect an established
snowmobile rail crossing to determine whether the snowmobile organization is
maintaining the crossing in conformance with rules promulgated by DNR and is
maintaining required liability insurance. This bill authorizes the office of the
commissioner of railroads to also conduct such an inspection.
8. The bill specifies which portion of a crossing for which a permit is issued that
the rail authority must construct and which portion of an established crossing that
a snowmobile organization must maintain.
9. Current law provides that a rail authority may not close or remove a
snowmobile crossing that is subject to permit unless the rail authority first petitions
DNR for an order authorizing the rail authority to close or remove the crossing. This
bill provides that a rail authority may close or remove a crossing, whether or not the
crossing is subject to a permit, if the authority enters into an agreement with the
snowmobile organization to close or remove the crossing. The bill also authorizes a
rail authority to petition DNR to close or remove a crossing without first obtaining
an agreement from the snowmobile organization.
For further information see the state and local fiscal estimate, which will be
printed as an appendix to this bill.
The people of the state of Wisconsin, represented in senate and assembly, do
enact as follows:
SB58, s. 1
195.03 (30) of the statutes is created to read:
195.03 (30) Hearings.
(a) The office shall give testimony at the hearing under 3
s. 350.138 (4) (b), or shall submit a written report for introduction into the hearing 4
record, on the factors stated in s. 350.138 (4) (d) 1., 2., 3., and 4.
(b) The office shall give the department of natural resources the office's opinion 6
on whether the snowmobile crossing should be closed or removed in testimony at the 7
hearing under s. 350.1395 (2) (b) 2. or in a written report for introduction into the 8
SB58, s. 2
195.307 of the statutes is created to read:
10195.307 Snowmobile rail crossings.
Sections 195.28, 195.285, 195.286, and 11
195.29 do not apply to snowmobile rail crossings for which a permit is issued under 12
SB58, s. 3
350.137 (1) of the statutes is amended to read:
The department, after having consulted with the snowmobile
2recreational council each rail authority, as defined in s. 350.138 (1) (b), in this state,
3that has furnished the department with the information required under s. 350.138
4(2m), an established snowmobile association that represents snowmobile clubs, as
5defined in s. 350.138 (1) (e), in this state, and the office of the commissioner of
, shall promulgate rules to establish uniform maintenance standards and 7
uniform design and construction standards for snowmobile rail crossings under ss. 8
350.138 and 350.139.
SB58, s. 4
350.137 (2) (a) of the statutes is amended to read:
(a) Preclude the use of a proposed site for a snowmobile rail crossing 11
because the site would be unsafe due to poor visibility of the proposed snowmobile
12rail crossing from the cab of a railroad engine an approaching train from the position
13of a snowmobile operator who is stopped on the approach to the proposed crossing
SB58, s. 5
350.137 (3) of the statutes is repealed.
SB58, s. 6
350.138 (2) of the statutes is amended to read:
350.138 (2) Permit required.
No person may construct a snowmobile rail 17
crossing that is not located on a railroad crossing of a public
highway or street unless 18
the person is a snowmobile organization and has a permit approved issued
under this 19
section. No person may maintain a snowmobile rail crossing that is not located on 20
a railroad crossing of a public
highway or street unless the person is a snowmobile 21
organization and either the person has a permit approved issued
under this section 22
or the snowmobile rail crossing is an established snowmobile rail crossing. In order 23
to obtain a permit required under this section, a snowmobile organization shall apply 24
to the department. A separate permit is required for each snowmobile rail crossing 25
subject to this section.
SB58, s. 7
350.138 (2m) of the statutes is created to read:
350.138 (2m) Designation of agents.
Each rail authority with rail lines in this 3
state shall furnish the department with the name and address of an agent who is 4
authorized on behalf of the rail authority to receive copies of snowmobile crossing 5
permit applications filed with the department. A rail authority that has rail lines 6
in this state on the effective date of this subsection .... [revisor inserts date], shall 7
furnish this information to the department within 30 days of the effective date of this 8
subsection .... [revisor inserts date].
SB58, s. 8
350.138 (3) of the statutes is amended to read:
350.138 (3) Contents of
Procedures for permit application.
An application 11
submitted under sub. (2) shall include adequate descriptions and drawings showing 12
the proposed location of the snowmobile rail crossing, the design of the snowmobile 13
and the location of snowmobile trails that connect with the snowmobile 14
rail crossing. The department shall, upon receipt of an application submitted under
15sub. (2), send a copy of the application to the agent designated under sub. (2m) for
16the applicable rail authority and shall, immediately thereafter, send notice to the
17applicant that a copy of the application was sent to the designated agent. The notice
18to the applicant must include the name and address of the designated agent to whom
19the department sent a copy of the application.
The department may reject an 20
application within 15 days after it is submitted if the application is incomplete or is 21
not sufficiently detailed to determine whether to approve or deny the application.
SB58, s. 9
350.138 (4) of the statutes is renumbered 350.138 (4) (a) (intro.) and 23
amended to read:
(a) (intro.) The Except as provided under par. (d), the
shall approve or deny
an application submitted under sub. (2) within 60 days after
1receiving a complete and sufficiently detailed application. The department may
2deny an application only within 90 days after sending a copy of the application to the
3rail authority's designated agent under sub. (3)
if the department determines that 4the proposed snowmobile rail crossing does not comply with the rules promulgated
5under s. 350.137. all of the following conditions have been met:
SB58, s. 10
350.138 (4) (a) 1., 2., 3. and 4. of the statutes are created to read:
(a) 1. Within 30 days after the date on which the department sent 8
a copy of the application to the applicable rail authority, the applicant provided to the 9
applicable rail authority a written offer to discuss the advisability and feasibility of 10
the proposed rail crossing.
2. The applicant furnished the department with a copy of the written offer 12
provided to the applicable rail authority under subd. 1.
3. The rail authority did not file an objection with the department to the 14
application within 60 days after receiving notice under sub. (3) or did not object, 15
within that period, to a modification of the application as agreed to by the rail 16
authority and the applicant.
4. The application complies with the rules promulgated under s. 350.137.
SB58, s. 11
350.138 (4) (b) of the statutes is created to read:
(b) The department shall hold a hearing on the application if the 20
conditions under par. (a) 1., 2., and 4. are met, if the rail authority files with the 21
department an objection to the application within 60 days after receiving notice 22
under sub. (3), and if the objection contains all of the following:
1. A statement that, after discussing the advisability and feasibility of the 24
proposed rail crossing with the applicant in good faith, the rail authority opposes the 25
2. A statement of the basis for the rail authority's objection.
SB58, s. 12
350.138 (4) (c) of the statutes is created to read:
(c) The department shall give notice of any hearing scheduled 4
under par. (b) to the applicant, to the applicable rail authority, and to the office of the 5
commissioner of railroads. The hearing shall be a contested case hearing under ch. 6
227. The department's order issuing or denying a permit is a final order subject to 7
judicial review under ch. 227.
SB58, s. 13
350.138 (4) (d) of the statutes is created to read: