AMA News and Notes September 2012

September 5, 2012
Courtesy of American Motorcyclist Association

American Motorcyclist Association

Washington, D.C.: AMA members who want to know where candidates stand on motorcycling-related issues heading into Election Day should check out the 2012 AMA Voter Guide.
Motorcycle-only checkpoints, restricted recreational access to public land and health insurance discrimination against motorcyclists are just some of the issues used to rate congressional, gubernatorial and presidential candidates in the 2012 AMA Voter Guide.
The AMA 2012 Voter Guide is part of the AMA “Vote Like A Motorcyclist” campaign to help members decide how to cast their ballots in the coming elections. Voting and getting involved politically are important because the results of Election Day lay the foundation for legislation and laws.
If anti-motorcycling candidates earn elected office, then they could legislate away opportunities to ride, cut back or eliminate funding for rider safety training, or even wipe out other programs that motorcyclists have spent years working to implement.
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Washington, D.C.: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will require all consumers to buy at least four gallons of gasoline from certain gas pumps now that the new E15 ethanol-gasoline blend is being introduced into the market. The EPA revealed the requirement in a letter dated Aug. 1, responding to AMA concerns that E15 — a gasoline formulation that contains up to 15 percent ethanol – might inadvertently end up in motorcycle and all-terrain vehicle gas tanks when consumers use “blender pumps.” A blender pump dispenses different fuel blends through the same hose, and the vast majority of motorcycles and ATVs in use today aren’t designed to operate on E15 fuel.
The AMA has repeatedly expressed concerns to government officials and federal lawmakers about possible damage to motorcycle and ATV engines caused by the inadvertent use of E15 when the new fuel becomes widely available, and has asked that motorcycles and ATVs be part of any scientific study into the effects of E15.
Ethanol is essentially grain alcohol produced from crops such as corn that is mixed with gasoline to produce an ethanol-gasoline blend motor fuel. In October 2010, the EPA approved the use of E15 in model year 2007 and newer light-duty vehicles (cars, light-duty trucks and medium-duty passenger vehicles). Then, in January 2011, the EPA added model year 2001-06 light-duty vehicles to the approved list. No motorcycles or ATVs are currently on the list.
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Oroville, Calif.: The Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Commission recently approved a general plan for the Clay Pit State Vehicle Recreation Area. This marks an important step in the ongoing effort to develop and improve riding opportunities in northern California, and is expected to result in a number of improvements to the facility in the coming years. Visit for the latest information.

Orofino, Idaho: Two leading Idaho-based recreation organizations have sued the U.S. Forest Service, challenging the Clearwater National Forest’s decision to impose Wilderness public use restrictions on areas that have not been designated as Wilderness by Congress.
The suit focuses on management of the “Great Burn” area near the Idaho-Montana border. That area has been a popular snowmobiling destination for decades and, prior to issuance of a travel management plan, also received occasional motorcycle and mountain bike use. The Wilderness Act allows none of these activities unless specifically authorized in a particular piece of legislation. Despite these uses, the Great Burn area has always received “high” ratings for Wilderness attributes in all assessments undertaken by the Forest Service.

The case is entitled Idaho State Snowmobile Ass’n v. U.S. Forest Service, Case No. CV-09-2523.
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Chicago: AMA Government Affairs Manager Imre Szauter, along with AMA Board member Jim Viverito, attended the bipartisan National Conference of State Legislatures Legislative Summit, at the McCormick Place West convention center, Aug. 6-9, to educate state lawmakers and their staffs about motorcycling issues. The event attracted thousands of state lawmakers and staffers from across the country. “We had a booth set up and I’m very pleased with the attention we got,” Szauter says. “Not only did a lot of people come over to learn about motorcycling issues, but I was surprised by the number who said they rode motorcycles.”

Springfield, Ill.: Senate Bill 3452, sponsored by Gov. Pat Quinn on July 5, makes changes to state law regarding license plate covers, allows for the vertical mounting of motorcycle license plates, raises the limit for motorcycle handlebar grip height to no higher than the operator’s head, permits the use of a motorcycle modulating brake lamp, and creates the offense of “aggravated operating of a motorcycle on one wheel” if the operator is also speeding.

Also Senate Bill 2528, sponsored by Sen. Gary Forby (D-Benton) and signed into law by Quinn on July 6, requires motorcyclists to wait not less than 120 seconds before proceeding with due caution through an intersection controlled by a traffic-actuated signal that does not recognize their vehicles. Motorcyclists in Chicago aren’t permitted to proceed through a malfunctioning traffic-actuated signal.

And House Bill 930, sponsored by Rep. Dan Beiser (D-Alton) and signed into law by Quinn on July 6, prohibits a law enforcement agency of the state or a political subdivision from accepting federal funding to establish motorcycle-only roadside checkpoints.

Des Moines, Iowa: The state has implemented a new system for off-highway vehicles that combines the owner’s registration, title and decal into one document. Riders renewing their 2013 registrations need to visit the county recorder during this transition. The system will require additional information that owners must bring with them, including their most current registration certificate; make, model, model year and color of the OHV; vehicle identification number, weight, engine displacement and number of wheels.

The system is intended to allow for future renewals to take place online and at participating license vendors. Along with the new system, there is also a new trail pass required for all snowmobilers and for nonresident OHV operators who plan to ride on public land or public ice, or designated areas like trails and OHV parks.
The trail pass, requested by snowmobile groups, will be used to improve and expand trails and riding opportunities and will be available at local license sales agents. For more information visit:

Topeka, Kan.: House Bill 2459, sponsored by Gov. Sam Brownback on March 21, exempts applicants for class M licenses who have completed prior motorcycle safety training according to Department of Defense requirements from further written and skill testing by the state.

Baton Rouge, La.: Senate Bill 582, sponsored by Gov. Bobby Jindal on June 1, raises the motorcycle handlebar height limitation from not more than 15 inches above the seat occupied by the operator to not higher than the operator’s shoulders when the operator is sitting astride the seat and the operator’s hands are on the handlebar grips.

Jefferson City, Mo.: Senate Bill 719, sponsored by Gov. Jay Nixon on July 12, exempts an active member of the U.S. armed forces who applies for a motorcycle or “motortricycle” license or endorsement from the state motorcycle skills test if the member has successfully completed a military motorcycle rider training course that meets or exceeds the Motorcycle Safety Foundation curriculum standards.

Trenton, N.J.: Assembly Bill 1074, sponsored by Gov. Chris Christie on July 18, makes it easier for prosecutors to obtain convictions for vehicular homicide or assault by auto against a person who illegally uses a cellphone while driving and, as a result, kills or injures someone. A person is guilty of death by auto or assault by auto when it is proven that he or she drove a motor vehicle recklessly. The law specifically provides that the illegal use of a cellphone while driving gives rise to an inference that the defendant was driving recklessly.

Pickerington, Ohio: Some elite AMA racers are receiving high-level recognition in their states. Ryan Ambrose of Dallas won the 2012 AMA Track Racing Vintage Grand Championship, which prompted Texas Gov. Rick Perry to send him a congratulatory certificate. “With talented athletes competing year-round in sports from high school football to motorcycle racing, competition is an enduring passion for Texans,” Perry wrote. “I have no doubt you will continue to make our state proud by displaying courage, leadership and good sportsmanship.”
In New Jersey, Gov. Christie wrote to Fred Hoess, congratulating him on qualifying for the 2012 International Six Days Enduro in Saxony, Germany. And in Vermont, Billy Burns received a similar letter from Gov. Pete Shumlin for qualifying for this year’s ISDE

Providence, R.I.: Championed by the Rhode Island Motorcycle Association, House Bill 7187, sponsored by Rep. Peter John Petrarca (D-Lincoln) and Senate Bill 2130, sponsored by Sen. John J. Tassoni (D-Smithfield), require that a motorcycle parking plan be established for parking areas, that designated areas be made available beginning on April 1, 2013, within sight of or adjacent to state, city, and town buildings, but does not apply to state airports. Both bills were signed into law by Gov. Lincoln Chafee on June 11.