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Washington, D.C.: Some 23 million acres of public land in western states would be off-limits to off-highway riding under a bill introduced in Congress on March 14. The bill, H.R. 1187 – the Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act — would designate 23 million acres of public land as Wilderness.
If approved by the full Congress, the measure would close off 23 million acres in Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming to off-highway vehicle riders. This is equivalent to a land grab the size of the state of Indiana.
A Wilderness designation is one of the strictest forms of public land management. Once Congress designates an area as Wilderness, nearly all forms of non-pedestrian recreation are illegal, including off-highway vehicle and bicycle riding.
Even though H.R. 1187 only affects western states, Democratic Rep. Carolyn Maloney of New York City introduced it. Riders and AMA members can contact their federal lawmakers and tell them to oppose H.R. 1187 by going to www.americanmotorcyclist.com/rights/issueslegislation. There is even a pre-written letter that can be sent by email.
Washington, D.C.: A bill requiring the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to stop the use of E15 fuel until the gasoline-ethanol blend is studied further has been introduced in Congress.
U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) introduced the bill, H.R. 875, on Feb. 28. The measure would repeal the EPA’s waiver decision approving the use of E15 and would bar the agency from granting further decisions on the use of the fuel until the EPA obtains an independent scientific analysis of the effects of the E15 blend.
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. The AMA wants motorcycles and ATVs to be part of any scientific study into the effects of E15.
Montgomery, Ala.: A bill that would end Alabama’s distinction as the only state that doesn’t require a motorcycle license has been introduced. Rep. Allen Farley, (R-McCalla), the sponsor of House Bill 185, said he would also eventually like to see a skills test.
In Alabama, anyone 16 and older with a regular driver’s license can also operate a motorcycle in the state.
Under current law, drivers can request to take the knowledge test to get the Class M endorsement on their license. But the law does not require the endorsement to operate a motorcycle.
Sacramento, Calif.: A study released by the Little Hoover Commission says California should consider giving up some of its state parks and turning them over to local agencies permanently. The 120-page report, titled “Beyond Crisis: Recapturing Excellence in California’s State Park System,” is the result of a yearlong investigation that started before financial scandals emerged in July 2012 at the California Department of Parks and Recreation.
The 13-member Little Hoover Commission, appointed by the governor and legislature, chose to focus on long-term survival of the state parks system.
The most controversial of six recommendations calls for appointing an advisory council to decide which parks have “statewide significance” and which serve more regional or local needs. Those in the latter category, the study says, should be transferred to local agencies.
Atlanta: Senate Bill 196, sponsored by Sen. Ronald Ramsey (D-Decatur), would authorize motorcycles to operate in toll lanes and on toll roads without the payment of a toll.
Marion, Ill.: State Police and the Illinois Department of Transportation are partnering to help ensure motorcycle riders are prepared for the spring and summer riding seasons.
During a recent news conference at the Black Diamond Harley-Davidson dealership, safety education officer Joey Watson of the state police District 13 office in Du Quoin spoke about the campaign to encourage use of proper riding safety gear and other safety tips for motorcyclists.
Black Diamond and the Illinois State Police are hosting a Motorcycle Safety Summit at 6:30 p.m. April 23 in the Benton Civic Center. Admission is free.
Springfield, Ill.: House Bill 2585, sponsored by Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia (D-Aurora), would create an aggravated offense for driving while using a video device, wireless telephone, or electronic communication device. If a crash causing great bodily harm, permanent disability, or disfigurement to another person results from a driver using one of these devices, the driver could be convicted of a Class A misdemeanor. If a crash causing death to another person results, the driver could be convicted of a Class 4 felony.
Boston: House Bill 3140, sponsored by Rep. Tom Sannicandro (D-Ashland), would permit a motorcyclist stuck at an intersection controlled by a traffic-actuated signal to proceed with due caution after coming to a full and complete stop and determining that the vehicle detection device failed to recognize the motorcycle.
Boston: House Bill 3148, sponsored by Rep. Todd Smola (R-Palmer), would prohibit a child under the age of 5 years and/or weighing 40 pounds or less from being a passenger on a motorcycle with a maximum speed in excess of 30 miles per hour.
Boston: House Bill 3047, sponsored by Rep. Carolyn Dykema (D-Holliston), would prohibit motor vehicle checkpoints that target a particular type of motor vehicle, decoration or adornment of the vehicle or rider. The law would not apply to any motor vehicle used as a public or common carrier of persons or property, or to any trackless trolley, semi-trailer, tandem unit, or low-speed motor vehicle used to convey construction or commercial goods.
Boston: Senate Bill 1663, sponsored by Sen. Robert Hedlund (R-Weymouth), would require every motorcycle built after Dec. 31, 1982 and parked or operated in the state to be equipped with an exhaust system labeled in conformance with the Code of Federal Regulations for OEM (original equipment manufacturer) or aftermarket exhaust systems. The law would require the exhaust system label to be clearly visible without the use of inspection mirrors or other optical aids, or without removal of any equipment attached to the motorcycle. An initial violation would be punishable by a fine of $250; second violation, by a $500 fine; and third violation by a $1,000 fine.
Jefferson City, Mo.: House Bill 715, sponsored by Rep. John C. McCaherty (R-High Ridge), would permit motorcycles to be equipped with a means of varying the brightness of the its brake light for a duration of not more than five seconds upon application of the motorcycle’s brakes.
Stewartstown, N.H.: An effort that has combined multiple portions of all-terrain-vehicle trail-building throughout the North Country is expected to culminate this summer with the final touches that will complete the long-planned 1,000-mile interconnected trail network. New Hampshire’s Bureau of Trails and 15 recreational-vehicle clubs in the northernmost section of the state have been part of the effort.
Increased commerce is a big part of the goal of providing an ATV system that will allow long-distance riders to avoid having to get off the trail and haul their machines by trailer before rejoining the trail. With the expected increase in riders traveling through northern New Hampshire, the new network should give a shot in the arm to existing small businesses such as restaurants, motels, gift shops, and small-engine repair services, and encourage new business start-ups.
The trails bureau has been providing funds for portions of the effort, such as last year’s $63,000 grant that built interconnecting all-terrain-vehicle trails through the Great North Woods connecting Gorham, Pittsburg and Colebrook.
Albany, N.Y.: Assembly Bill 6055, sponsored by Assemblyman Felix Ortiz (D-Brooklyn), would make comprehensive motor vehicle insurance reparations (no-fault insurance) applicable to motorcycles. Currently, motorcyclists are required to purchase and carry comprehensive motor vehicle insurance, but are excluded from all no-fault benefits, including medical coverage for injuries suffered because of an accident, and payment of lost wages.
Albany, N.Y.: Assembly Bill 6316, sponsored by Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo (D-Binghamton), would permit motorcycle operators and passengers 21 or older to make their own decision with regard to motorcycle helmet use.
Columbus, Ohio: A provision in an Ohio House bill that could have made it difficult to determine how motorcycle rider safety training funds were being spent was deleted after several motorcycling organizations complained. The AMA, ABATE of Ohio, the Ohio Motorized Trails Association and others told state lawmakers that the provision was a bad idea because motorcyclists wanted to ensure that the funds are used for motorcyclist safety training.
Lawmakers removed the provision from the bill, and then on Feb. 28 the full House approve the bill, sending it to the Senate for further consideration.
Ohio’s on-highway motorcyclists support Motorcycle Ohio through $6 from each motorcycle registration fee paid to the registrar of motor vehicles. That money goes into the Motorcycle Safety and Education Fund.
Imre Szauter, AMA government affairs manager, was among those who testified against the provision before the House Transportation Subcommittee of the House Finance and Appropriations Committee. Szauter noted that in 2006 and in 2009, the state of Ohio attempted to raid the Motorcycle Safety and Education Fund.
In 2006, the Ohio Controlling Board received, and later rejected, a request to transfer $750,000 from the fund. In 2009, then-Gov. Ted Strickland reversed a decision to transfer $800,000 from the fund. In both cases, the motorcycling community spoke up to protect the money riders paid to support rider education.
Pickerington, Ohio: Motorcyclists everywhere will celebrate the thrill of riding during “AMA Go Ride! Month” in April. Sponsored by the American Motorcyclist Association, AMA Go Ride! Month encourages AMA members and riders nationwide to renew their passion for riding in the dirt and on the street.
Throughout AMA Go Ride! Month, the AMA will host contests with great prizes, including a Shoei helmet, Tour Master Intake jacket, and Cortech tank bags, courtesy of AMA partner Helmet House. Details will be announced at the end of March. Each week during AMA Go Ride! Month the AMA will focus on a special motorcycling theme.
Also during each week of AMA Go Ride! Month, “Freedom Friday” will alert motorcyclists about important issues that pose a threat to motorcycling freedoms.
Stay tuned to www.americanmotorcyclist.com and www.facebook.com/americanmotorcyclist in the coming days for more details about 2013 AMA Go Ride! Month.
Charleston, W. Va.: House Bill 2772, sponsored by Delegate Daniel Hamrick (R-48th District), would permit motorcyclists and bicyclists at intersections controlled by traffic-actuated signals to safely proceed through the intersection if they wait a minimum of two minutes and determine the vehicle detection system failed to recognize their vehicle.