The week in review

Well, campers, the motorcycling world made it through the first week with no serious trauma.  Your minion may have flat feet and a sore throat from all the running around and talking I did, but it’s all for a good cause.  There were scheduled meetings with legislators all through the week, along with the impromptu conversations with members in the halls and around the campus and flying visits rounding up sponsors for Senator Rockefeller’s bill.  I even got the pleasure of some quality time with Director Luce from DOL.  All in all, not a bad week.

Of course, next week y’all get to be the stars of the show.  Black Thursday is coming up, so get on the phones and start making arrangements to meet up with your representatives.  This is where the rubber really meets the road; I can make the case for our issues, but nothing will drive the message home like having a constituent in Olympia.  Investing one day of vacation time (or perhaps a “sick” day) to ensure that your voice is heard by the people making the rules.  Not only that, but you will definitely earn bragging rights when people are complaining about “the government.”  You can say that you did not just complain, you did something.

A few logistical details before we get to talking points and updates.  If for some outside chance you don’t know how to locate your legislator, poke this link.  When you call to make an appointment, if the Legislative Assistance (LA) does not have any available appointments do not despair. There is only so much time in the day, and it fills up fast.  They are also in session and committee meetings during the day.  Ask to make arrangements to meet with your member outside a committee room or pull them from the floor.  This is standard practice.  Also, have your issues clear in your head and ready to address.  Time is critical, so we do not want to waste a member’s time.  This is another mark of professionalism, and the member will appreciate it.  You can even bring along a bullet point sheet to leave with them so that they can keep things straight.

Now, on to the news.

1.  SB 5141 has been introduced by Senator Rockefeller to require any person applying for a 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.  The bill hit the intro sheet Friday evening.  Representative Finn has generously offered to run a companion bill in the house.

Comment: 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 WRRA 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.   We are still looking for senate sponsorship.  Representative Finn has also volunteered his sponsorship in the house.

Comment:  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 working 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).  SB 5185 is sponsored by Senator Delvin and will be on intro Monday, with the house version to follow shortly.

Comment:  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 developing language for a clean repeal/modification of the helmet law.  Indications are that the houseand senate bills will be in the hopper early next week.

Comment:  Clean means no training requirements, insurance requirements, or any other restriction, 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 and ABATE of WA are working on a bill pertaining to law enforcement profiling of motorcyclists.  House and senate versions should be in the hopper early next week.

Comment:  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.

6.  A bill is being introduced by Representative Asay in the house to revisit the issue of traffic signals not detecting motorcycles.  Draft language allows for motorcycles, after waiting for one full cycle of the lighting system without being detected, to proceed through the intersection, but only after exercising the same level of caution as would be used at a stop sign.  This should be ready for introduction next week.

Comment:  While there was a measure passed to address reporting and maintenance requirements on non-detecting signals, no solution was ever implemented to get motorcycles through signal controlled intersections in the near term.

7.  SB 5027 Requiring motorcycle manufacturers to indicate whether a motorcycle is for off-road use only.  This is to correct the discrepancy where manufacturers market a motorcycle for off road use only, that does not meet federal motor vehicle safety standards, but do not indicate that information on the certificate of origin.  The bill is scheduled for a hearing in Senate Transportation on Thursday, January 20.

Comment:  While this may be merely viewed as a technical correction, there may be some far reaching ramifications.  There are some people who purchased aftermarket “kits” that purport to make the bikes street legal, and some of those bikes have previously been licensed for street usage.  The DOL has been notifying the ones it has become aware of that the registrations will converted to ORV in lieu of renewal of the on road registration.

8.  SB 5063 Concerning special license plates for motorcycles.  This allows motorcyclists the same opportunity as the rest of the motoring public to purchase the various supporters specialty plates, such as disabled veteran, Purple Heart, or university mascot.  This bill is also scheduled for a Thursday hearing.

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