Black Thursday is coming

It’s that time of the year again, when the motorcycling community comes to Olympia to meet with their legislators to discuss motorcycling issues.  The annual “Black Thursday” event, hosted by ABATE of Washington and the Confederation of Clubs, will be this coming Thursday (January 22nd).

The issues identified to this point:

  1. Adult freedom of choice for helmet usage:  SB 5198 will allow adults 18 years of age and older to make their own choice as to whether they wear protective headgear.  While the Washington Road Riders Association does not advocate that riders eschew riding with quality protective gear, the WRRA firmly believes that that decision should lie with the rider, not the government and supports ABATE in their efforts.  For more information contact Brian Lange of ABATE.
  2. Addressing motorcycle rider liability for actions required of helmet manufacturers:  HB 1244 removes the burden from the consumer to prove the manufacturer complied with FMVSS 218.  In some areas law enforcement uses the inspection of a helmet as the primary reason to stop a rider, effectively initiating an encounter to require a citizen to prove their innocence, as well as opening the door to further investigation into the rider.
  3. Addressing lane sharing for motorcycles:  This bill would make lane sharing (splitting) legal during a strictly defined scenario.  The traffic can be going no greater than 25 mph, and the rider cannot exceed traffic speed by more than 10 mph.  There is a draft bill in circulation, but has yet to be formally introduced on the floor of the house.  For more information contact Brian Lange of ABATE.
  4. Addressing the scheduling of the Washington Motorcycle Safety Advisory Board:  This is an issue that has been brought to the WRRA by many concerned riders.  There has been a level of confusion at the DOL due to no formally established schedule for the Advisory Board.  This bill will codify the scheduling of the meetings as quarterly, on either the 1st or 2nd Friday of the 3rd month of each quarter, at 19:00.  In a nutshell, this puts the meetings in March, June, September, and December at 19:00.  The meetings of the board provides an excellent venue and avenue for riders to address the agency personnel who actually administer the Washington State Motorcycle Safety and Education Program.  Setting a consistent calendar schedule, and having the meetings after normal working hours provides the best opportunity for riders to attend without having to take time away from their “day jobs.”  The program is one that the riders pay for, and it is only proper that there is maximum transparency and access.

I’m quite sure that there is some issue that will ring with any rider, so it would be time well spent to get yourself to Olympia and make your voice known.

If you don’t know yet who your representatives are, follow this link.

Until next time,

Ride safely and legislate well,

“Texas” Larry

Government Relations

Legislative Action Alert 1/14/2015

Senator Don Benton has offered legislation to amend the helmet law, allowing freedom of choice in helmet usage for any rider 18 years old or older.  He urgently requests that all the riders of Washington State contact their State Senators and ask for them to sign on to the bill when it hits the Introduction Calendar.  This should happen either Thursday or Friday, depending on when Senator Benton passed the bill to the Code Reviser’s office.

If you don’t know yet who your representatives are, follow this link.

Until next time,

Ride safely and legislate well,

“Texas” Larry

Government Relations and Junior Blogger

NHTSA Chief confirmed by U.S. Senate

NHTSA Chief confirmed by U.S. Senate
December 19, 2014

For Immediate Release

The United States Senate has confirmed President Barack Obama’s nominee to head the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In a late night Senate session, the confirmation was part of a large package of other non-controversial nominees. Mark Rosekind was nominated nearly a year after former NHTSA boss, David Strickland, stepped down. Rosekind was a National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) board member.
Rosekind, sleep scientist by training, has been on the NTSB’s board since 2010. Before that, he spent 13 years as the president of Alertness Solutions and also worked for NASA for several years. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx called Rosekind a “leader ready-made for this critical responsibility,” adding it would be his job not only to hold automakers accountable, but “raise the bar on safety.” According to the NTSB website, Rosekind is a leading expert in human fatigue.
Rosekind has his work cut out for him; NHTSA has suffered amid harsh criticism that the agency has sat on the sidelines concerning recent auto part failure recall, such as the GM ignition switch and the Takata Corp airbag recall. A troubled website and a botched attempt to alert the public about the potentially fatal airbags have left NHTSA reeling. To put things in perspective, Joan Claybrok, a former NHTSA administrator, and hater of all things motorcycle, called the current state of affairs at the safety administration “a total meltdown, a royal embarrassment and calls into question the trustworthiness of the agency.” These are harsh words from a longtime and very loyal supporter of NHTSA.
Still pending is the Senate confirmation of Presidents Obama’s pick to head the National Transportation Safety Board, Christopher Hart.

MRF News Release 14NR34

MRF E-MAIL NEWS Motorcycle Riders Foundation
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14NR34 – MRF News Release – Highway Funding Bill Clears Congress

1 August 2014

Contact:Jeff Hennie, Vice President of Government Relations and Public Affairs

Highway Funding Bill Clears Congress


The United States Congress has agreed on a temporary patch for the highway trust fund, reports the Motorcycle Riders Foundation. The Senate agreed to the House version of the temporary funding fix for the highway trust fund.


The fix came just hours before the United States Department of Transportation would have had to cut off payments for highway construction projects and mass transit programs. The quick fix will keep the trust fund solvent through mid May of 2015.


The final Senate vote ended a week of legislative ping ponging between the House and Senate. The Senate wanted to modify the legislation so it would expire in December of 2014, thus forcing a vote on a larger highway bill that would address the trust fund issues before the end of this year. The House defeated that legislation, sending its own version to be passed by the Senate, that will run through May and spends $10.8 billion.


The temporary patch kicks the larger issues into the next Congress to be sworn in next year.


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