Moped ban still has ‘long way to go’

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A home rule petition on moped rentals failed to get acted upon before last year's session ended. So, it's unlikely to pass any time soon.

A home-rule petition to ban the rental of mopeds and motor scooters in Oak Bluffs has been filed again with the state’s House of Representatives after failing to pass during the legislature’s last session.

The bill, which aims to “prohibit the commercial lease or rental of mopeds and motor scooters to the public,” was approved in a unanimous vote at the last Oak Bluffs town meeting.

Home-rule petitions allow residents to ask for legislation that is specific to their municipality.

State Rep. Dylan Fernandes, D-Falmouth, told The Times he was “not surprised” the bill, which would be the first of its kind in the state, did not make it through the House, because of its wide-ranging implications for the state.

The bill made it through two committees, but failed to pass a third, and ended with last year’s session. “It will fundamentally change how local municipalities can restrict certain modes of transportation,” Fernandes said. “Makes it a much larger hurdle.”

He added that over 700 bills are filed every year, and the vast majority of them never pass the legislature. Most bills typically take three or four sessions to pass, according to Fernandes.

The legislature began its new session last month, and expects to have committee assignments set up within the next couple of weeks. Once committees are established, each bill goes to a committee, and a public hearing is set up, giving people the chance to voice their opinions and submit letters.

In 2017, all six Island towns voted to ban moped rentals in a nonbinding ballot question. Both Fernandes and state Senator Julian Cyr have said they would back the will of Oak Bluffs voters, but those hoping for a moped-free summer this year might have to wait.

“This is a piece [of legislation] that has a long way to go,” Fernandes said.