NCOM Biker Newsbytes
Compiled & Edited by Bill Bish,
National Coalition of Motorcyclists (NCOM)
Louisiana Enacts Law Against Motorcyclist Profiling
Louisiana has become the third state to pass legislation to curtail the profiling of motorcyclists by law enforcement, by unanimously approving House Bill 141 in the state legislature (38-0 in the Senate 6/2/19 and 103-0 in the House 6/3/19), and the biker anti-discrimination measure was signed into law on June 11, 2019 by democrat Governor John Bel Edwards.
Effective August 1, 2019, HB 141, “Provides relative to motorcyclist profiling training for peace officers,” by establishing the creation of a “motorcyclist profiling awareness training program” to include classroom or internet instruction “in the current bias-recognition policing curriculum.”
Sponsored by Rep. Frankie Howard (R) at the request of ABATE of Louisiana, with support from the Louisiana Confederation of Clubs & Independents as well as the National Council of Clubs and the Motorcycle Profiling Project, the new LA law defines “motorcyclist profiling” as “the arbitrary use of the fact that an individual rides a motorcycle or wears motorcycle related clothing or paraphernalia as a factor in deciding to stop, question, take enforcement action, arrest, or search an individual or his motorcycle or motor vehicle.”
The Bayou State follows the states of Washington (2011) and Maryland (2016) in passing similar legislation, all by unanimous votes, and a bipartisan federal anti-profiling bill currently awaits further action in the U.S. House of Representatives (House Resolution 255) after passing by unanimous consent in the United States Senate (Senate Resolution 154) late last year.
Missouri Helmet Law A Signature Away From Repeal
The Show-Me State may soon grant adult motorcycle riders the freedom to choose whether or not to wear helmets, as legislation to repeal their mandatory motorcycle helmet law for those 18 and older who carry qualifying medical insurance is currently sitting on the desk of Governor Mike Parson (R) awaiting his signature. Parson previously supported repeal as a member of the state legislature.
Senate Bill 147 passed the Senate 21-12 on Thursday, May 16 and the House voted 94-46 the following day to advance the omnibus transportation package to the governor.
Missouri is currently in the minority among states, as only 19 states and the District of Columbia mandate the wearing of motorcycle helmets by all riders. Repeal efforts have been debated in the General Assembly for decades, and twice before lawmakers had passed helmet law repeal bills, in both 1999 and 2009, but couldn’t overcome gubernatorial vetoes.
But now, with Republicans holding hyper-majorities in both chambers and the governorship, riders’ rights groups like ABATE for Missouri and Freedom of Road Riders of Missouri took advantage of the “perfect storm” to navigate their bill through the Conservative-controlled legislative agenda.
Gov. Parson has voted in favor of this issue in the past, and according to the St. Joseph Post newspaper, “nearly all stakeholders expect him to sign it.”
Nebraska Police Target Motorcyclists
In a battle between bikers and cops, Nebraska State Troopers are working with local law enforcement this summer to put the brakes on speeding motorcycles.
For the second year in a row, troopers will conduct special enforcement operations to stop speeding bikers, utilizing an $18,000 grant from the Nebraska Department of Transportation Highway Safety Office that will allow for aviation support as well as more law enforcement on the ground.
“Motorcycles have a unique ability to evade law enforcement…(so) we’ll use resources like helicopters to help out,” Nebraska State Patrol Capt. Jason Scott told KMTV 3 NewsNow in Omaha, adding that numerous citations have been made so far and arrests have been made for reckless driving and for flight to avoid arrest.
“We’ve been working with the county attorney’s offices to make sure there’s a message that’s sent here,” Capt. Scott said. “We’re not going to tolerate the aggressive driving.”
Red Light Cameras Banned In Texas
Drivers in Texas are about to be seeing less red, as Governor Greg Abbott (R) has announced that he has signed legislation that bans red light cameras across the Lone Star State. House Bill 1361, authored by Representative Jonathan Stickland (R-Fort Worth), would prohibit the use of “photographic traffic signal enforcement systems.”
Stickland told FOX7 the bill was motivated by “a lot of reason,” including privacy concerns and the right to due process.
The new law included a grandfather clause for cities involved in red light camera contracts that have yet to end, except if the contract includes a provision allowing for state law to break it.
Ever since becoming legal in 2007, Texas lawmakers have made attempts to turn the cameras off that were unsuccessful until now, according to the Star-Telegram. Red light cameras have come under fire elsewhere recently, with at least 7 other states trying to ban them.
Washington Governor Signs Motorcycle Liability Bill
Washington Governor Jay Inslee (D) has signed House Bill 1014, which is a motorcycle liability insurance bill.
Previously, motorcycle operators across the state were not required to be insured under a motor vehicle liability policy, but HB 1014 sponsored by Rep. Bill Jenkin (R-Prosser) changes this by requiring all motorcycle operators to be insured under a motor vehicle liability policy or the allowed equivalent according to the terms required by current law.
“People are surprised to learn that motorcycle operators are not required to have liability insurance. My bill simply requires those operating a motorcycle to meet the insurance requirements, or equivalent for registered motor vehicles under current law,” Rep. Jenkin told KEPRTV Action News. “When someone gets property damage, or in an accident, with an uninsured motorcyclist, they are stuck filing a claim and potentially paying a higher premium. Having motorcycles insured, just like other vehicles, makes sense.”
Jenkin’s bill goes into effect 90-days after the adjournment of the 2019 session.
Grass Clippings And Motorcycles A Deadly Mix
A number of states and localities have come to the realization that grass clippings on the roadway are a danger to motorcyclists, and some are taking steps to outlaw the roughage.
In Pennsylvania, Senator Camera Bartolotta (R-Washington County) has proposed legislation to protect motorcyclists by making it illegal to throw grass clippings on the roadway during mowing season, making the violation a fineable offense much like littering. She says grass clippings not only cause the surface of the roadway to become extremely slippery, creating a hazard to motorcycle riders and other drivers, as well as presenting an environmental concern by clogging storm drains and can make their way into streams and cause pollution.
When riders complain to law enforcement, their complaints are often dismissed as the current law is not enforceable, but the senator’s proposal to add two words “grass clippings” to the law that makes throwing litter and other items on the roadway an offense would fix that.
Her bill proposes fines of up to $300 for the first offense and up to a $1,000 for subsequent offenses, and would require the landowner to remove the clippings from the roadway.
In Ohio, the city of Fremont says it will begin ticketing people for blowing grass clippings into the street, saying they pose a danger to motorcyclists. City officials say dumping grass clippings in the road is illegal under a city ordinance regarding “placing injurious material or obstruction in street,” and the city says its code enforcer and police department will be paying special attention to the issue throughout the warmer months.
“Please make every effort to keep grass out of our streets and keep Fremont safe for our friends on two wheels!” the city says.
Meanwhile, an Illinois rider is dead after a crash involving grass clippings on the road and losing control of her motorcycle. Her husband, who also lost control of his motorcycle, told the local newspaper; “I would like something to be done better than a $50 fine on grass clippings; it kills people!” He has contacted his state representative about increasing the penalty for making an unnecessarily dangerous mess in the road from trimming your lawn.
While some slippery hazards like wet leaves in fall can’t be avoided, not spraying grass clippings onto the road is as easy as pushing or driving your lawn mower in the opposite direction to spray back into your yard rather than out onto the roadway.
Tariffs Could Devastate Motorcycle Industry, Claims Trade Group
Industry leaders are encouraging activism ahead of new import taxes, and the Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC) is asking riders to help stop a new round of tariffs on Chinese products. The sanctions will directly affect equipment and apparel that riders depend on, as well as motorcycle parts and accessories and bikes built in China. “The proposed additional 25% duty on Chinese goods lumps gear like boots and gloves in with common replacement parts, like lithium-ion batteries, and curiosities, like live manatees and blue-veined cheeses,” says the industry trade group. Perhaps more devastating to a business already working with tight margins is a catchall — number 8714.10.00 on the list — that includes all “Pts. & access. for motorcycles (including mopeds).”
The MIC makes the case that, in today’s motorcycling economy, even the most ardent purchasers of American apparel and machines are going to feel a pinch to the wallet.
“The proposed China List 4 includes essentially everything that is not currently subject to an additional 25% tariff on Lists 1-3,” MIC Senior Vice President Scott Schloegel says. “Tariffs are taxes paid by companies and consumers in America and it is critical that you make your voice heard now.”
Rolling Thunder Final Ride, Or Not?
For over three decades, hundreds of thousands of motorcyclists have roared into our nation’s capital over Memorial Day weekend for Rolling Thunder, an annual demonstration in support of veterans, prisoners of war and service members who went missing in action, but due to financial and logistical constraints, this year’s rally was their last hurrah. Rally organizer and co-founder, Artie Muller, has announced that the massive rally, held every year in Washington, D.C. since 1988, has grown too costly and unwieldy and will come to an end.
However, efforts to keep the rally going include President Donald Trump who pledged his support and tweeted out during the “Ride for Freedom” on Sunday, May 26 that Rolling Thunder was not going to end after all: “The Great Patriots of Rolling Thunder WILL be coming back to Washington, D.C. next year, & hopefully for many years to come,” he wrote. “It is where they want to be, & where they should be.”
In addition, “Wreaths Across America” has since announced a donation of $200,000 to Rolling Thunder to help cover costs and keep the ride going, with executive director Karen Worcester telling Muller on that Monday’s “Fox & Friends” that “Remembering is too important to forget.”
Muller said during the Fox News show that he looks forward to meeting with the president about continuing the ride, but he also said that instead of holding one giant demonstration the group is planning to take the event nationwide next year and hold rides regionally throughout the country with its 90 local chapters.
But one thing could surely bring the hordes of patriotic bikers back to D.C. in protest, said the 74-year old Vietnam Veteran during his speech on the National Mall at this year’s Rolling Thunder; if House Speaker Nancy Pelosi moves to impeach President Donald Trump.
Easy Rider Encore
July 14, 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of Easy Rider — and to celebrate, a newly-restored 4K version will be shown again in 400 theaters nationwide for just two nights; July 14th and 17th.
Directed by the late, great Dennis Hopper, the film starred Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, and Jack Nicholson in a role that scored him an Oscar nomination.
In 1998, the film was officially added to the National Film Registry, and the American Film Institute lists it on its 100 Greatest American Movies of All Time.
Quotable Quote: “Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted, the indifference of those who should have known better, the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most, that has made it possible for evil to triumph.”
~ Haile Selassie, regent of Ethiopia (1892-1975)
THE AIM/NCOM MOTORCYCLE E-NEWS SERVICE is brought to you by Aid to Injured Motorcyclists (A.I.M.) and the National Coalition of Motorcyclists (NCOM), and is sponsored by the Law Offices of Richard M. Lester. If you’ve been involved in any kind of accident, call us at 1-(800) ON-A-BIKE or visit www.ON-A-BIKE.com.