It’s day two of the 105 day session, and things are already ramping up. The tone can be read by looking at which interest groups show up and what kind of presence that they present. This year many of the groups that are looking down the barrel of budget cuts did not even wait for the second day of session to start showing up en masse. Everyone is definitely trying to protect their financial rice bowls.
As the owners of around 2 million reserve in the motorcycle safety fund we definitely have to stand guard over our dedicated funds. As a legislator friend of mine told me many years ago, no one’s money is totally safe when the legislature is in session. I am not in a panic, nor do I foresee any reason to panic yet, neither do I feel like we can rest on our laurels. There is nothing in the offing yet, but we still have 103 days to survive.
Now, for the rest of the legislative news and rumors:
1. A bill is being dropped to require any person applying for a third (yes, THIRD) motorcycle learner’s permit needs to provide proof of enrollment in a certified motorcycle training program prior to receiving their third, and last, permit. If you go through three learners permits without being able to pass the riding test perhaps motorcycle operation is not your strong suit.
2. A bill is being shopped by me to make it a requirement that the Motorcycle Safety Advisory Board meet quarterly. Currently the criteria is open to interpretation, and with all of the attempts to cut expenditures across the board the schedule got dropped back to 5 meetings during a two year period. That is definitely too limiting on communications between the program (agency) and the riders who fund that program. We intend to protect the program from being subject to” feel good” and “pro forma” actions that have no basis in reality.
3. ABATE of Washington is shopping legislation that would all local municipalities to be able to suspend helmet requirements for riders while participating in a parade. Currently that authority lies with the Washington State Patrol (WSP). Recently a request to suspend the helmet law for a parade in eastern Washington ended up in the equipment standards office in Olympia, where it was denied. All ABATE is doing is trying to restore local control to a local issue.
4. ABATE of Washington is also shopping language around for a clean repeal/modification of the helmet law. Clean means no training requirements, insurance requirements, no nothing, simply freedom to make your own equipment decisions. Although they understand that the measure has absolutely no chance of passing, they also understand the need to continue the conversation, and this bill will open that conversational door. After all, it is really a matter of policy, not fiscal burden. It makes more sense to engage in crash prevention than it does to indulge in the practice of injury mitigation. Training trumps gear every time.
5. The Confederation of Clubs is shopping language pertaining to law enforcement profiling of motorcyclists. This has become a much bigger issue than law enforcement targeting riders based on their organizational clothing. On the federal level NHTSA is pressing for grants to pay for check points where every motorcyclist is pulled to the side for “safety inspection and education.” That is profiling taken to the nth degree. it sends the message “you must be unsafe or up to something, you’re on a motorcycle.” Definitely not an acceptable practice.
We don’t have any releasable sponsorship yet, and there are not any bill numbers, but when I know more I will get it out on the wire. For now, as you are calling your legislators for appointments on Black Thursday (1/20/2011 HINT!) just say you want to speak with your representatives about various motorcycling related issues.
Until then, Ride Safely and Legislate Well