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Washington, D.C.: U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe, a Republican senator from Maine and a longtime champion of motorcyclists’ rights on the federal level, has announced her retirement. She will not seek a fourth term in office this fall, and will retire when her current term ends on Jan. 3, 2013.
Snowe was heavily involved in Maine’s motorcycling community before being elected to public office. During her career, she held a seat on the Senate’s Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, among other key posts.
In both the House and the Senate, Snowe helped defeat measures that would have penalized states for not passing mandatory helmet laws. In 1992, working with Sen. Dave Durenberger (R-Minn.), she introduced a proposal that removed a controversial requirement that would have stripped freedom-of-choice states of control over a portion of their highway construction spending.
Motorcyclists showed their support of Snowe in a number of ways, including the popular “Another Biker for Olympia Snowe” bumper stickers that were prevalent during election season.
Snowe’s career is notable for a number of milestones. She is the youngest Republican woman ever elected to the U.S House and is the first woman to have served in both houses of a state legislature and both houses of the U.S. Congress.
Throughout her career, Snowe earned a reputation as a moderate Republican, and has long been respected by both sides of the partisan aisle. Her retirement announcement brought accolades from across the political spectrum.
Irvine, Calif.: Sherry Williams, the Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s (MSF) director of quality assurance and research, has been appointed to chair the Transportation Research Board (TRB) Motorcycles and Mopeds Committee.
According to the TRB, its mission is to promote innovation and progress in transportation through research, and to this end, it incorporates more than 200 committees composed of individuals who share an interest and expertise in transportation. The Motorcycles and Mopeds Committee is concerned with all aspects of motorcycles and mopeds, including the operator, the vehicle and the transportation environment.
In her three-year role as committee chairwoman, Williams will lead the committee in developing a Triennial Strategic Plan and identifying research needs specific to motorcycles and mopeds, as well as issuing Research Needs Statements. These statements will be used to stimulate research that addresses issues relating to motorcycle safety and motorcycles as a transportation mode for use by practitioners, researchers and others.
Sacramento, Calif.: Assembly Bill 1890, sponsored by Assemblyman Jose Solorio (D-Santa Ana), would provide for motorcyclists using vehicular crossings or toll highways to carry a transponder or other electronic toll payment device in one of four ways: in a pocket, inside a cycle net draped over the gas tank, mounted on a license plate device provided by the toll operator, or in the glove box of the motorcycle. Current state law mandates an electronic payment device must be visible at all times for the purpose of enforcement when the vehicle is located on a vehicular crossing or toll highway.
Sacramento, Calif.: Assembly Bill 1047, sponsored by Assemblyman (R-Lake Elsinore), which would expressly prohibit state and local law enforcement agencies that receive grant money for a motorcycle safety program from using that money for the implementation of motorcycle-only checkpoints. The bill has passed out of the Assembly and is awaiting a hearing in the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee.
Honolulu: On March 6, the state House voted to pass House Bill 2277. The latest amended version of H.B. 2277 would prohibit youth ATV riding for riders under 8 years old, but is otherwise consistent with industry guidelines and reasonable regulations that have been adopted in other states. Much of the amended version’s language comes from model legislation developed by the manufacturers of ATVs. However, the bill departs from the model in the area of minimum age.
Manufacturers of ATVs design their machines for riders as young as 6. Riders of this age, and younger in some places, regularly participate in AMA-sanctioned events. Thus, the AMA and the All-Terrain Vehicle Association (ATVA) oppose any general prohibition on ATV riding by persons who are at least 6 years.
The amended version of H.B. 2277 is a significant improvement over the introduced version. However, the AMA and ATVA continue to oppose the bill because of the minimum age provision.
Please contact your Hawaii state senators today and urge them to change the minimum age requirement in H.B. 2277 to reflect industry guidelines and drop the age from 8 to 6. To call your Hawaii state senators, click here.
Annapolis, Md.: House Bill 729, sponsored by Delegate (D-Montgomery County) and Senate Bill 940, sponsored by Sen. Roy Dyson (D-Great Mills), would require tire manufacturers or distributors to provide a label displaying each tire’s month and year of manufacture, and deliver information on tire aging and deterioration. The bills would also require tire merchants to keep records for tires older than a certain age if sold as new.
St. Paul, Minn.: Senate File 1959, sponsored by Sen. Chris Gerlach (R-Apple Valley), would establish penalties for anyone found guilty of certain aggressive, inattentive, reckless, or careless driving offenses resulting in death or great bodily harm. If the violator was using a hand-held cellular telephone or texting while driving, they could be charged with a gross misdemeanor and may be sentenced to one year imprisonment, a $3,000 fine, or both if not charged with a more serious offense. A conviction under this new section would also require the Department of Public Safety to revoke the person’s driver’s license or driving privilege for a period of not less than six months. Second or subsequent offenses within 20 years of the first offense would be charged as a felony.
Jefferson City, Mo.: Senate Bill 805, sponsored by Sen. Kevin Engler (R-Farmington), would substantially increase penalties for those pleading or found guilty of certain right-of-way violations that result in physical injury, serious physical injury or death to another roadway user.
Jackson, Miss.: House Bill 580, sponsored by Rep. Gary Chism (R-Columbus), would reduce the sales tax rate on retail sales of motorcycles from seven percent to five percent.
Raleigh, N. C.: The North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) is moving forward with a proposal to use federal taxpayer funds to construct tolling infrastructure along the Interstate 95 (I-95) corridor. I-95 was built using public funds collected from the tax paid on motor vehicle fuels. Implementing tolls on the existing lanes would employ public tax dollars to install the tolling equipment in order to then charge the toll. Potential increases of crashes on secondary roads due to heavier traffic from those avoiding the tolls are also of great concern.
The AMA sent a letter to the administrator of the Federal Highway Administration, Gov. Bev Purdue, and North Carolina Secretary of Transportation Gene Conti opposing the conditional approval for NCDOT to progress with the tolls. To view that letter, please click here.
Pickerington, Ohio: The AMA is pleased to announce the election of two corporate directors to the Board of Directors: John Ulrich, founder and owner of Roadracing World & Motorcycle Technology, and Sean Hilbert, CEO of Cobra Moto. The elections occurred at the annual AMA corporate members meeting in Indianapolis on Feb. 18. Ulrich was re-elected, while Hilbert is serving his first term on the AMA board. Both terms are for three years.
In addition, Russ Brenan, senior adviser, government relations and public affairs, Kawasaki Motors Corp., U.S.A., was appointed to fill the corporate member seat vacated by Jim Williams, who represented Kawasaki on the AMA board before joining the AMA as vice president of industry relations and corporate member programs. Brenan’s term runs through February 2013.
Also attending the board meeting for the first time was Ken Ford, a 27-year AMA member from Bartow, Fla. Ford’s election as the member representative from the Southeast region was announced on Jan. 25.
To contact Ulrich, Hilbert, Brenan or other members of the AMA Board of Directors, please go to www.americanmotorcyclist.com/about/board.
Pickerington, Ohio: The AMA has announced lower negotiated insurance cost savings of up to 18 percent for AMA event organizers. The new lower rates are geared to make riding and racing more affordable for AMA members everywhere.
Offered by Lockton Affinity, the preferred insurance provider of the AMA, the new program takes effect on March 1, 2012. The current reduction is the second insurance rate drop in six months. On Sept. 29, Lockton Affinity offered rates that were 10 percent lower than previous rates.
Source and full story: www.americanmotorcyclist.com/news/12-02-29/Significant_insurance_rate_reductions_for_AMA-sanctioned_events.aspx
Oklahoma City: House Bill 2830, sponsored by Rep. Sean Roberts (R-Hominy), would require all motorcyclists over 18 years old who choose to ride without a helmet to carry at least $10,000 in medical benefits to cover injuries resulting from a crash while operating or riding a motorcycle.
Columbia, S.C.: House Bill 4691, sponsored by Rep. Todd Atwater (R-Lexington), would prohibit the Transportation Commission and the Department of Transportation from discriminating against motorcycles, motorcycle operators, or motorcycle passengers when formulating transportation policy, promulgating regulations, allocating funds, and planning, designing, constructing, equipping, operating, and maintaining transportation facilities. The policy would also apply to transportation facilities and projects undertaken or operated by counties, cities, towns, and other political subdivisions of the state where public funds have been used in whole or in part to plan, design, construct, equip, operate, or maintain the facility or project.
Columbia, S.C.: House Bill 4584, sponsored by Rep. Todd Atwater (R-Lexington), would require the Department of Transportation to design and erect traffic signs that promote motorcycle safety at locations that are deemed high motorcycle traffic areas, such as motorcycle rally event areas.
Nashville, Tenn.: House Bill 2483, sponsored by Rep. Ryan Haynes (R-Knoxville), and Senate Bill 2458, sponsored by Sen. Becky Duncan Massey (R-Knoxville), would authorize a new Rolling Thunder specialty license plate for motor vehicles. The plate would be designed in consultation with the leadership of the Tennessee chapters of Rolling Thunder and display an appropriate logo or design representative of the organization. Funds produced from the sale of the plates would be allocated to Rolling Thunder’s Tennessee chapters for exclusively use to publicize Prisoner of War-Missing In Action (POW-MIA) issues.
Richmond, Va.: On Feb. 28, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell signed into law House Bill 187, which was introduced by Delegate C. Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah). The new law, which takes effect July 1, prohibits law enforcement agencies from establishing checkpoints where the only vehicles subject to inspection are motorcycles.
The measure was introduced after the Arlington County Police Department set up a motorcycle-only checkpoint during the Rolling Thunder ride on May 28, 2011, that brings awareness to Prisoner of War/Missing in Action (POW/MIA) issues.
Also signed was House Bill 97, sponsored by Delegate Tony Wilt (R- Harrisonburg), which provides that two two-wheeled motorcycles may ride abreast while traveling in a lane designated for one vehicle.