Last week, the Mississippi Legislature approved Senate Bills No. 3026 and 2940, which will authorize the cities of Bay St. Louis and Waveland to allow the operation of low-speed vehicles on certain streets within the cities' limits.
District 46 Senator Philip Moran authored both bills and said he's been working on this golf cart legislation for the past three years. They have both been approved by Gov. Phil Bryant and will be signed in the next few days, he added.
"I'm glad to be able to get them passed," Moran said Thursday. "Everyone is looking forward to utilizing them (low-speed vehicles) downtown. Several others in the state passed this year as well. Next year, I'll be trying to get a blanket bill for the entire state."
According to both bills, a golf cart is defined as a "motor vehicle that is designated and manufactured for operation on a golf course for sporting or recreational purposes and that is not capable of exceeding speeds of 20 miles-per-hour and is equipped with the safety equipment as required under 49 CFR Section 571.500."
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"A low-speed vehicle means any four-wheeled electric or gasoline-powered vehicle that has a top speed greater than 20 miles-per-hour but less than 25 miles-per-hour and is equipped with safety equipment as required under 49 CFR Section 571.500," the bills state.
Bay St. Louis Mayor Mike Favre said Thursday that council members are already circulating and working on a rough draft ordinance.
The ordinance will include which streets low-speed vehicles will be allowed on.
"They won't be allowed on Highway 90 or Highway 603," Favre said. "They will be allowed at certain red light crossings."
According to Senate Bill No. 3026, in order to operate a low-speed vehicle or golf cart within the city limits of Bay St. Louis, drivers must possess a valid driver's license and proof of insurance. Owners of low-speed vehicles and golf carts will be required to register their vehicles with the city and the bill authorizes the city to charge a registration fee, which will be deposited into the city's municipal general fund.
"The owner of the low-speed vehicle or golf cart shall be issued a registration decal by the city that must be displayed as determined by the city," the bill states. "The registration shall remain valid for as long as the registering owner owns the low-speed vehicle or golf cart."
According to the bill, low-speed vehicles will be allowed on public roads and streets with a speed limit of 25 miles-per-hour or less.
In January, the city of Waveland approved a resolution supporting legislation authorizing the use of low-speed vehicles and golf-carts within the city's limits, Waveland Mayor Mike Smith said Thursday.
In Senate Bill No. 2940, the designated areas in Waveland are listed in Section 2.
Low-speed vehicles and golf carts will be allowed only within the residential areas above and below Highway 90. Public roads and streets excluded from the operation of these vehicles include: All of Highway 90; all of Kiln-Waveland Cutoff; all of Highway 603 from the intersection of Highway 90 and Waveland Avenue to Maple Street; and from the intersection of Highway 90 and Nicholson Avenue to Jeff Davis Avenue, the bills states.
Waveland drivers of low-speed vehicles must also possess a valid driver's license, proof of insurance and register the vehicle for a fee with the city. At the time of registration, the city of Waveland will also issue a map outlining the areas low-speed vehicles and golf carts are allowed, the bill states.
"I'm happy that it passed," Smith said. "We want a walkable city and slow-moving vehicle city south of the tracks. With all the building in Waveland, it seems like we're about to boom and this will make it much more attractive."
The bills can be viewed in their entirety at www.legislature.ms.gov
Moran said the bills will go into effect on July 1.