Having just returned from testifying at the House Health and Social Services Committee meeting I would like to report that the language in the bill that we felt was a backdoor into Helmet Laws has been removed. I would like to thank Co-Chair Rep. Wes Keller of Wasilla for making the amendment that removed the 11 words that could have led to new mandatory helmet laws. I will bee posting the new bill language as soon has they get it posted on the Legislatures Website.
We still need to work on the Senate Bill still and get it removed from it too.
The section of Law that is affected by Mrs. Peter’s legislative draft is Public Law 109-59 or SAFETEA-LU Section 2010 Subsection(e) Paragraph(1) which states that, “IN GENERAL.—A State may use funds from a grant under this section only for motorcyclist safety training and motorcyclist awareness programs…”, which includes criteria listed in subsections (A-D). In Mrs. Peters’ letters she only suggests that the States be able to use these training/educational funds “to promote the use of motorcycle helmets” (i.e. Universal Helmet Laws). She didn’t provide any language for her proposed draft.
I choose to use a helmet when I ride. No matter how effective helmets may be, they don’t educated or train motorcyclists and they don’t do anything to make that rider more aware of other motorists or those motorists any more aware of the vehicles, including motorcycles, that are around them. Mrs. Peters’ attempt at amending SAFETEA-LU is an attempt at removing the ability to make the choice to use a helmet. It’s this choice that many riders are “up-in-arms” about.
MRF E-MAIL NEWS Motorcycle Riders Foundation
236 Massachusetts Ave. NE
Washington, DC 20002-4980
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Jeff Hennie, MRF Vice-President of Government Relations
16 February 2008
MRF Strongly Opposes US DOT Attack on Training Funds
The Motorcycle Riders Foundation (MRF) has learned that United States Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters sent letters to Capitol Hill with draft legislation outlining her intention to raid the 2010 motorcycle training and awareness funds set aside by Congress in the last Highway Bill (PL 109-59). Peters announced on Thursday, February 14 that she would like to see the earmarked training and awareness funds made available to promote the use of helmets in individual states.
“The MRF is extremely disappointed that Mrs. Peters would choose this small, yet critical, grant program to raid. We understand her desire to encourage helmet use, but couldn’t the Secretary of Transportation find a more suitable program to fund her personal helmet hunt?” said Jeff Hennie, Vice President of Government Relations for the MRF.
The 2010 funds were a direct result of years of intense lobbying by state motorcyclists’ rights organizations (SMROs) and individual motorcyclists from across this country, and were intended for two very specific aspects of motorcycle safety – motorcycle rider education and motorist awareness of motorcycles. These two aspects of motorcycle safety have been grossly under-funded at the state level for years, often solely at the direct expense of motorcyclists themselves through licensing and registration fees.
The 2010 funding program, in its second year, is a way for the motorcyclists of this country to get a little help from the feds to save lives. The fact is that helmet use has always been a major plank in the platform at the US Department of Transportation (DOT). So why now take away funds desperately needed for other areas of motorcycle safety? The training and awareness programs in statewide operation now are in jeopardy of reduced or zero funding every year. This federal program was designed to allow a trickle of cash to the states to at least keep current programs running. Should Peters get her way, that trickle becomes nothing but a drip. In addition, the current 2010 grant program is not funding failing programs. In order to qualify for the grant, each state has to demonstrate success in its programs by reducing fatalities.
Secretary Peters narrowly skates around an existing law that bans the federal government from lobbying states to enact statewide legislation. She does this by not asking that the money be used for helmet LAW advocacy, but by asking the money be used for helmet USE advocacy.
What’s actually happened and how concerned do we need to be? You may be asking yourself that very question about now. Here is the real world scenario: Mary Peters has sent two letters to Congress – one to Speaker Pelosi and the other to Senate President Cheney. The letters include draft legislation that would amend section 2010 to allow funds to be used for the promotion of helmet use. At this point there is no actual legislation – just an idea. If and when legislation results, the MRF will be issuing a call to action strongly opposing Peters’ proposal, and will work tirelessly to convince every Senator and Member of Congress not to support this raid on the 2010 funds. At this point, however, the funds appropriated for your state are safe.