PAST AND PRESENT, Who are not members of the Congressional Motorcycle Safety Caucus as of Oct. 27, 2011

This summary concentrates on these individuals only as far as their interest in or support of motorcyclists.  As for any other issues they may or may not support the reader is left to form his or her own opinion.  The summary was compiled in October 2012 – not all of these individuals plan to seek another term in office.  Where that is known, it is indicated in the report.  The report is an overview, and interested parties should research particular interests further as needed.

Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) wrote H. Res. 1498 to reinforce a ban on federal lobbying on behalf of mandatory helmet laws and refocus the motorcycle safety strategy at the Department of Transportation on crash prevention.

“Recognizing that higher levels of ethanol in gasoline can cause engine damage and void warranties for motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles and many other small gas-powered motors, U.S. Rep. Sensenbrenner introduced H.R. 748 to prohibit the EPA from authorizing the use of gasoline containing greater than 10% ethanol.

The U.S. EPA recently approved E15, gasoline containing 15% alcohol, for use in 2001 or newer cars and light duty trucks, though most on- or off-highway motorcycles and all ATVs are not approved for its use, and using the hotter-burning fuel could void the manufacturer’s warranty.

Motorcyclists should be concerned about the availability of compatible fuel supplies if gas stations primarily provide E15 gasoline for the majority of their customers, and riders are urged to contact their Congressional Representative to support H.R. 748.” http://www.bikerunity.com/blogs/entry/NCOM-BikerNewsbytes-July-2011

“Washington, Sep 30, 2010 – Congressmen Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and Tom Petri (R-WI) today took the lead to address concerns in the motorcyclist community.  Several Members of Congress joined Sensenbrenner and Petri in sending a letter to U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to inform him of numerous concerns regarding the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) Motorcycle Law Enforcement Demonstrations Grant Program. 

The widely criticized program creates motorcycle-only checkpoints that only take into account factors that contribute to motorcycle safety and do not help prevent crashes, such as USDOT-approved helmet compliance, tailpipe standards and motorcycle modifications.

Crash prevention is the first priority for motorcyclists.  It makes little sense to me why NHTSA continues to advocate programs that haven’t proven to prevent motorcycle accidents in the first place,” Congressman Sensenbrenner said.

Congressman Petri added, “What’s the safety benefit of this?  We have limited resources, and motorcycle checkpoints won’t get us the biggest bang for the buck.  Also, it’s outrageously intrusive.”

The State of New York has implemented the check-point program.  The letter urges Secretary LaHood to detail the benefits of the program, including the types of infractions that have been recorded that will help prevent accidents.  The letter also seeks the criteria NHTSA will use to determine whether motorcycle-only checkpoints have been successful crash prevention methods that help to ensure motorcyclist safety.

“Until these concerns are addressed, we encourage you to suspend Administrator Strickland’s Motorcycle Law Enforcement Demonstrations Grant program.  The funding for this program would be better spent on awareness programs and crash causation studies unless evidence suggests otherwise.” the Congressmen noted in the letter.

Congressman Sensenbrenner, along with several of his colleagues also introduced H. Res. 1498 on July 1.  The resolution “supports efforts to retain the ban on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s ability to lobby state legislatures using federal tax dollars and urges NHTSA to focus on crash prevention and rider education”  to bring attention to the concerns of motorcyclists in Wisconsin and around the country.

Congressman Sensenbrenner raised concerns over NHTSA’s lobbying efforts while Chairman of the House Committee on Science in 1997. Congressman Sensenbrenner included anti-lobbying language in several bills under his jurisdiction and also supported the anti-lobbying language that eventually became law.”  – See Rep. Sensenbrenner’s website for this official message.  http://sensenbrenner.house.gov/News/DocumentSingle.aspx?DocumentID=209600

Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT) is the ranking member of the House Natural Resources Committee, Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands and works to protect access for motorized recreational vehicles no America’s public lands.  He has supported health insurance legislation to close the loophole that allows the denial of claims for injuries sustained while riding motorcycles or ATV’s.

Rep. Dan Boren (D-OK) serves on the House Natural Resource Committee.  He supports the motorsports industry’s effort to codify its tax status into law and make the necessary safety improvements and upgrades to maintain race schedules and the enjoyment of fans.

Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) was the leading Democratic sponsor for the AMA’s health insurance anti-discrimination bill that passed the full Senate in 2004.  He worked at reintroduction of that legislation in 2005 and was instrumental in efforts to get the bill signed into law.

He supported Cash for Clunkers program to include motorcycles and to help stimulate the economy by protecting jobs in assembling motorcycles.  He worked with Senator Bob Casey to get a tax credit for motorcycles. He is apparently not running for re-election for the next term.

U. S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) introduced legislation to augment the Cash-for-Clunkers program to include motorcycles.  A cash voucher for up to $4,500 would be issued for trading in an older car or truck that is not fuel efficient for a new, fuel-efficient vehicle.  The vehicle to be traded must get less than 18 mph to qualify, and the new vehicle must get 22 mph or higher.  Casey based his support on the goal of encouraging the use of fuel-efficient vehicles and motorcycles typically get much more than cars and trucks.

The legislation would help spur economic recovery and protect manufacturing jobs in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and other states where motorcycles and bike parts are manufactured and assembled.

Rebecca Bortner of Harley Davidson supported the concept providing a gas-guzzler car or truck could be traded in on a new more fuel-efficient motorcycle.

“On Eve of U.S.-China Trade Summit, Senators Rev Up Pressure on China to End Trade Barriers that have Put the Brakes on U.S.-Made Motorcycle Sales

American-Built Icon, Harley-Davidson, is Unfairly Shut Out of the Chinese Motorcycle Market In Letter to Administration Officials, Senators Demand Lifting of Chinese Regulations Limiting Biker Access in Urban Areas Senators Call on China to Eliminate Restrictions Impeding Open and Fair Competition

Tuesday, December 4, 2007 WASHINGTON, DC—Today, U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA), Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), Herb Kohl (D-WI) and Claire McCaskill (D-MO) announced they have urged trade and commerce officials to press the Chinese government to remove trade barriers that are effectively preventing American motorcycle companies from competing in China. 

In a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Susan C. Schwab and Secretary of Commerce Carlos M. Gutierrez, the senators said China should take a visible step towards eliminating the barriers at the upcoming meeting of the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT). This round of the annual meetings is set for next week in Beijing.

Despite a two-year presence in the Chinese market, Harley-Davidson’s sales in the country are virtually non-existent due to municipal regulations that limit or even ban heavy-duty motorcycle use in urban areas. The rules are just another example of the arbitrary, non-tariff barriers erected by China that have the effect of unfairly limiting access to the Chinese market.  Such actions call into question China’s compliance with its obligations as a member of the World Trade Organization.

“Fair trade must be a two-way street,” said Senator Casey. “China’s roadblock to Harley-Davidson is unacceptable.  There will always be a demand for a classic like Harley-Davidson motorcycles, but artificial barriers are threatening U.S. jobs.” 

“The Chinese market should be a hog heaven for U.S. motorcycle companies, but China’s unfair trade practices are slamming the brakes on Harley sales,” Senator Schumer said. “Companies like Harley-Davidson should be rewarded for keeping manufacturing jobs here in the U.S., not punished by China’s attempts to control the market.  The U.S. Government should be going to bat for an American icon like Harley-Davidson.  The bottom line is that American-made motorcycles should not be prevented from participating in the Chinese market.” 

“A premier American-made product like Harley-Davidson motorcycles can compete anywhere in the world based on engineering and design merits, but only if given fair access to the marketplace,” Senator Kohl said.  “Harley-Davidson is ready to do business worldwide, and we need to eliminate the trade barriers that are preventing their legendary cycles from reaching buyers who want them.”

“As we import billions of dollars worth of Chinese products each year, American companies like Harley-Davidson deserve fair access to Chinese markets,” Senator McCaskill said.  “This is important not only to American jobs, but also to our trade relationship with China.” 

Milwaukee-based Harley-Davidson employs 8,500 workers at its plants in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Missouri.  In addition to these manufacturing plants, the Goodyear Dunlop tire facility in Buffalo, NY employs 1,300 people.  Goodyear Dunlop—the last American manufacturer of motorcycle tires—supplies Harley-Davidson with 100% of its original equipment and replacement tires.  These tires are produced solely at the Buffalo facility.  Last week, Harley-Davidson experienced a planned shut down of operations at its plants in those three states due to flat sales. See the Senator’s website for the preceding article.  http://casey.senate.gov/newsroom/press/release/?id=5a7e3eab-1a07-4bac-99cb-48a2db11947a

Senator Herb Kohl (D-WI) See the article under Sen. Bob Casey.  Senator Kohl has announced that he will not seek re-election in 2012.  As owner of the Milwaukee Bucks he should have enough to do. 

Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO)  See article under Sen. Bob Casey.

Senator Charles Shumer’s bike of choice is food-pedaled.  He is an avid bicycler and penned a lengthy article in 2009, “Exploring New York by Bike”.  See article under Senator Bob Casey.

Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO) sits on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and is the ranking member of the Committee on Small Business.  He co-sponsored a letter to the Committee expressing an urgent need of a new crash causation study for motorcycles in the 108th Congress.  The last major study prior to that was what is now called the Hurt Report, named for Harry Hurt who was the lead researcher for the study.  That study was initiated in 1976 and published in 1981.  There is an eight page summary of the study online. 

 He was a co-sponsor of the AMA health insurance and anti-discrimination bill.  He is described as a small businessman and full-time farmer before his election.  I didn’t find any documentation of him riding, but his transportation of choice seems to be a 1947 piper cub airplane. 

“I was pleased to work with the American Motorcyclist Association to update these statistics,” said Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.), who introduced the motorcycle-study language into the bill. “It has been over 20 years since we last studied what causes motorcycle accidents and now is the time to take another look.”

Rep. Doc Hastings (R-WA) was a co-sponsor for H.R. 1587 to exclude youth-model motorcycles and ATV’s from the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) of 2008 that in essence banned them.  He exposed tactics that would block motorized recreation on public lands by sending a letter to the Dept. of the Interior and sponsoring two House Resolutions.  He was a cosponsor of H. R. 1974 to make the current depreciation standard for permanent moto-sports facilities law.  He is the ranking member of the House Natural Resources Committee.

Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-SD) is co-chair for Administration of the Blue Dog Coalition, a group of Democrats who describe themselves as moderates.  She supported the exclusion of youth model motorcycles and ATV’s from CPSIA.  She lost her seat in Congress in 2011.

Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) is the ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee which has jurisdiction over the six-year transportation bill process.  He aided the request for a new causation study for motorcyclists in the SAFETY-LU.

Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA) Supported the continued sales of youth motorized recreational vehicles, supports eliminating any denial of insurance benefits for injuries sustained while riding motorcycles. 

Rep. Tom Petri (R-WI) supported motorcyclists while on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.  He supported language for a new causation study within the House version of SAFETY-LU.  He was a co-sponsor of the AMA’s health insurance anti-discrimination bill and a lead advocate for funding increases of motorized trails.

Rep. Danny Rehberg (R-MT) is the original sponsor of H.R. 1587 that would exclude small displacement motorcycles, ATV’s, and snowmobiles from the (CPSIA).  He is a member of the Appropriations Committee. 

He manages Rehberg Ranch with a herd of 500 cattle and 600 cashmere goats.  His wife, Jan, is an attorney who represents farmers and ranchers. 

“Rehberg Sponsors Resolution Defending States and Motorcycle Riders’ Rights 07/01/10 See Congressman Rehberg’s website. 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Montana’s Congressman, Denny Rehberg, has signed on as an original cosponsor of a House Resolution to reaffirm state and individual rights with regard to motorcycle safety.  The decision to legally require riders to wear helmets is made at the state level, and in Montana, adults are not required to wear a helmet.

“Montana doesn’t need the federal government dictating how we regulate our roads,” said Rehberg.  “Folks out West are getting pretty sick of nanny-state bureaucrats telling them how to live and what choices to make.  These decisions are best left to Montanans.”

In 1996, Congress repealed penalties for states that did not enact mandatory motorcycle helmet laws.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) responded by actively lobbying with federal funds to persuade states to enact mandatory helmet laws on their own.  Congress banned the use of federal funds for lobbying in 1998.
 
However, in May, the NHTSA Administrator, David Strickland, suggested an increased federal role minimizing the role of the state and individual.  This Resolution was introduced today by Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (WI-05) and cosponsored by Congressmen Rehberg, Doug Lamborn (CO-05), Tom Petri (WI-06) and Paul Ryan (WI-01).

“It is the job of Congress to defend the freedom and individual responsibilities that motorcycle riders across the nation enjoy as they travel the open roads of America,” Congressman Sensenbrenner said.  “Mr. Strickland’s plan greatly concerns me as it is not the job of the federal government to create one-size-fits-all helmet laws.  Mr. Strickland appears to be intent on pursuing all means possible to enact mandatory helmet laws either at the federal level or by violating the principles of the 10th Amendment and bullying the States into enacting mandatory helmet laws.”

“We applaud Congressman Rehberg for doing the right thing for both Montanan motorcyclists and motorcyclists across the country. We could not be more pleased that Congressman Rehberg and his colleagues have once again stood up for states rights,” said Jeff Hennie, Vice President of Government Relations and Public Affairs for the Motorcycle Riders Foundation. “Keeping the federal motorcycle safety focus on accident prevention and rider education are absolutely the most effective way to save lives and this resolution does just that.” 

“The American Motorcyclist Association appreciates Rep. Denny Rehberg’s leadership for being an original cosponsor on H. Res. 1498.  By supporting this resolution, Rehberg and his colleagues reinforce the importance of motorcycle crash prevention, and the pursuit of rider education as a primary means to reduce injuries and save lives,” said Ed Moreland, Senior Vice President, Government Relations.” The following is taken from:  http://www.americanmotorcyclist.com/NewsView/11-05- 26/AMA_Family_Capitol_Hill_Climb_rally_urges_lawmakers_to_support_kids_off-highway_riding.aspx All news

AMA Family Capitol Hill Climb rally urges lawmakers to support kids’ off-highway riding May 26, 2011  Families from as far away as Washington state, Arizona and Colorado delivered their message at a gathering in the Rayburn House Office Building. The parents and children then met with their individual lawmakers to personally urge support for H.R. 412, the Kids Just Want To Ride Act.

The bill is intended to exclude kid-sized machines that were inadvertently ensnared in the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) of 2008. The CPSIA was intended to ban small toys with high lead content, but because of broadly written language, it has been interpreted to apply to all products for kids 12 and under, including dirtbikes, ATVs, bicycles, clothing and books.

“It’s been clear from the start that motorcycles should never have been part of this ban, and nobody delivers that message better than AMA members — young riders and their parents for whom off-road riding is an important family activity,” said AMA President and CEO Rob Dingman. “We helped bring them together, but it is their voices, and the voices of thousands of other motorcyclists from across the country, that are crucial to ending the ban.”

In response to the outcry from AMA members and others, officials issued a stay of enforcement of the CPSIA, but did not eliminate it entirely. The stay is set to expire at the end of the year. The AMA and its members, as well as many other motorcycling groups have urged passage of the the Kids Just Want To Ride Act to fully exempt kid-sized machines.

Speaking at the rally, Rehberg urged action by his fellow legislators to stop the ban. Not only does the ban hurt small businesses and jobs, but it forces kids to ride motorcycles and ATVs that are physically too large for their small statures.

“I feel pretty confident that we’re on the right side of the issue,” Rehberg said. “People say to me, ‘This just lacks common sense — what is going on here?’ This is what gives Congress a bad name… You’re putting our children at risk, and we’re not going to allow you to do that.”

Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) noted that parents, not government, know best how to make sure their kids stay safe.

“This is a great instance of where the government just doesn’t get it,” West said. “These kids are the responsibility of the parents. If the parents can make sure these kids are safe, and if parents can make sure they go out and enjoy a little bit of something that’s part of who we are in America — enjoying these little dirtbikes — then let the parents decide.”

Motorcycling is a healthy activity that should be encouraged, not curtailed by over-reaching government laws, said bill co-sponsor Rep. Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.). “That’s what I’d rather have my kids do, to get outdoors and get some exercise…and ride their bikes,” he said. 

Rep. Bobby Schilling (R-Ill.), another co-sponsor of the bill, said that stopping a law that shouldn’t have ensared dirtbikes in the first place only makes sense.

“It’s one of those very simple things to take on,” Schilling said. “It’s another thing where the government wants to intrude in our daily lives, and this is a simple thing for me to jump on. I just really appreciate that everyone came out here to show support for the bill.”

Ashley Nash-Hahn, appearing on behalf of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), spoke in support of the kids and parents who made the trek to Washington, D.C. “I’m so excited to tell her that we have all these young motorcycle riders here learning how to be safe,” Nash-Hahn said.

Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Mich.), an AMA Life Member, said it was time to end the ban.

“For government to step in, in non-common-sensical ways, and not even consider what legislation might do to families who want to spend time together, to businesses that want to provide products and services for them…now, to ratchet that back, is the wrong way to go,” Walberg said.

Among the kids and parents attending were Erin, 11, Adi, 7, and Carter, 5, Malcolm of Littleton, Colo., who, along with their parents, Danny and Peggy, won a trip to Washington, D.C., in the AMA’s “Kids Just Want To Ride” video contest.

Dingman noted that demonstrations of support like the AMA Family Capitol Hill Climb are vital in making the case to Congress that the CPSIA should not include motorcycles and ATVs. 

“It’s AMA members like those here today, and the thousands of others who have made their feelings known to their congressional representatives, that help make real change occur,” Dingman said. “All motorcyclists owe a debt of gratitude to the people in this room — kids, parents, congressional representatives who support this legislation, and more. We are making a very real difference here today.”

To date, more than 70 members of Congress have signed on to co-sponsor H.R. 412, the Kids Just Want to Ride Act, but its passage is by no means assured. That’s why the AMA is rallying motorcyclists in Washington, D.C., and urging others to tell their lawmakers to support Rehberg’s bill. Easy-to-use tools to contact members of Congress are available at AmericanMotorcyclist.com > Rights > Issues & Legislation.

Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL) helped with the fight to stop the NHTSA from lobbying states on the subject of mandatory helmet use.  He signed the letter to support a new crash causation study for motorcyclists, co-sponsored the AMA’s health insurance anti-discrimination bill, and cosponsored the AMA-supported public lands access bill.  He helped with the AMA’s removal of motorcycles from the European tariff list in 1999. 

Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) is a member of the Senate Budget Committee and Senate Finance Committee.  She supports motorcyclists on tracks and on the highways.  She was a lead signer on a letter to the CPSC urging commissioners to grant a petition for exclusion regarding youth-model motorcycles and ATV’s from lead standards.  She is the lead sponsor of S. 1400 which would provide equity to motorsports facilities and their tax status allowing track owners to continuously make improvements and upgrade safety features.

Senator John Thune (R-SD) He signed the letter asking the CPSC to return youth model motorcycles and ATV’s to the market and works for rider safety program funding on the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee.

“Apr 07 2009 From Sen. Thune’s website:  http://thune.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/press-releases?ID=c88d7716-cce3-4fd6-afea-fd3e425c9713  Urges Waiver for Youth ATV’s and Motorized Vehicles

U.S. Senator John Thune joined several colleagues in the U.S. Senate in encouraging the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to exclude off-highway motorcycle and all-terrain vehicles from the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act. Last year, Congress passed this measure in response to toys made in China failing to meet lead content standards. However, the legislation did not create a different category for products that use lead in items such as battery terminals and tire valve stems. As a result, there has been a great deal of concern that the CPSC could ban a number of products that Congress never intended to be covered, such as motorcycles, ATVs, and snowmobiles which may result in young riders using adult sized machines that could increase risks to the rider.

“Keeping children safe has to be our number one priority as we address this issue,” said Thune. “However, in an effort to keep children away from products carrying higher levels of lead, we have inadvertently created a problem that is potentially more dangerous for young people.”

The rules in the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act were designed to protect very small children from toys that may result in poisoning after children were made sick — not banning the sale of youth motorcycles and ATVs. The letter urges the CPSC to use its authority to expedite consideration of petitions to exclude these types of vehicles and grant a waiver consistent with other exemptions the CPSC has issued for other products.

Senator Thune was joined in sending this letter by Senators John Barrasso (R-WY), Evan Bayh (D-IN), Mark Begich (D-AK), Bob Bennett (R-UT), Sam Brownback (R-KS), Mike Enzi (R-WY), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Tim Johnson (D-SD), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), and Jon Tester (D-MT).

Rep. John A. Torbet (R-Stanley) sponsored a bill regarding a vehicle checkpoint pattern designated by a law enforcement agency shall not be based on a particular vehicle type and must include all types of vehicles, but does not restrict any other type of checkpoint or roadblock which is otherwise lawful.

“HB 381 an Act to Prevent Law Enforcement Agencies from establishing patterns for vehicle stops at checking stations based on a particular type of vehicle is now Session Law 2011-216,” reports Doc Ski, legislative director for CBA/ABATE of North Carolina and a member of the National Coalition of Motorcyclists Legislative Task Force (NCOM-LTF).

The legislation passed unanimously through both houses of the legislature, and was signed into law on June 23 by Governor Beverly Perdue, making North Carolina the second state in a month behind New Hampshire to enact such laws in response to NHTSA funding of motorcycle-only checkpoints to stop motorcyclists en route to major biker events to check equipment and paperwork.

This bill, sponsored by Rep. John A. Torbett (R-Stanley), provides that a vehicle checkpoint pattern designated by a law enforcement agency shall not be based on a particular vehicle type and must include all types of vehicles, but does not restrict any other type of checkpoint or roadblock which is otherwise lawful.”  See this and other news at:   http://www.recyclebikershop.com/apps/blog/entries/show/7853413-motorcycle-news-

Rep. Ric Killian (R-Raleigh) sponsored H.B. 113 to increase the minimum penalties for violating the right of way of a motorcyclist. The previous fine was $25, but this bill calls for a $200 fine for a driver who causes a motorcyclist to leave his travel lane. The fine is increased to $500 if there is property damage or personal injury sustained from the violation.

“Elected in 2006, Ric is now is his third term as a member of the North Carolina House of Representatives.  He is Chairman of the Appropriations/Transportation Committee overseeing the $4B Transportation budget, and Chairman of the Homeland Security, Military, & Veterans Affairs Committee.  He also serves on the Education, Elections Law, Judiciary, Redistricting, and Transportation Committees.  Ric has built a reputation as a fiscal conservative who also champions efforts on behalf of Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs, the real estate industry, and motorcyclists.” See: http://nchouserepublicans.com/rep-ric-killian-district-105

Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-Maryland) worked with the AMA and Maryland ABATE to get clarification of NHTSA’s boundaries when testifying before state legislatures.  His two sons race moto-cross and has been described as being a fan of motorcycling and racing.

Rep. Bartlett is an American success story in that he began his journey in a one-room school house and after a successful teaching career rising to the position of legislator. 

“PICKERINGTON, OH – May 26, 2011 – (Motor Sports Newswire) – Federal lawmakers have sent a bipartisan letter to the leadership of a key U.S. House committee to urge support for a bill that prohibits federal funding for motorcycle-only traffic checkpoints, the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) reports.

The lawmakers are also urging support for a measure to retain a ban on lobbying at the state level by a federal traffic safety agency.

Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) and his colleagues sent the letter on May 25 to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure as well as to the panel’s Subcommittee on Highways and Transit.

The letter asks the panels to include H.R. 904 and H.Res. 239 in the surface transportation reauthorization bill now being considered by Congress.

H.R. 904 would prohibit the U.S. Transportation Secretary from providing grants or any funds to a state or local government to be used for programs to check helmet usage or to create motorcycle-only checkpoints.

H.Res. 239 would support efforts to retain a ban on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA’s) ability to lobby state legislators using federal tax dollars and urges the agency to focus on motorcycle crash prevention and rider education and training.

“These important pieces of legislation would ensure that the Department of Transportation (DOT) and NHTSA focus on proven methods of motorcycle safety,” the letter said. “NHTSA’s Motorcycle Law Enforcement Demonstration Program has not proven to be an effective use of taxpayer dollars.

“Through this program, the state of Georgia was provided a $70,000 grant to create motorcycle-only checkpoints to inspect rider compliance with DOT-compliant helmet regulations,” the letter said. “The checkpoints are not a proven method of ensuring motorcyclist safety, and have certainly not been an effective use of limited federal taxpayer dollars.

“We take motorcycle safety seriously and want NHTSA to focus its safety efforts on proven lifesaving methods,” the letter said. “Including H.R. 904 and H.Res. 239 in the surface transportation reauthorization bill would set the record straight, that the House of Representatives supports rider education, driver awareness, training and proper licensing as the best methods of preventing motorcycle crashes, not mandatory federal helmet laws.”

In addition to Sensenbrenner, others who signed the letter include Reps. Thomas Petri (R-Wis.), Leonard Boswell (D-Iowa), Reid Ribble (R-Wis.), Ron Paul (R-Texas), Walter Jones (R-N.C.), Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md.), Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), Bob Filner (D-Calif.), Aaron Schock (R-Ill.), Randy Hultgren (R-Ill.), Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) and Mike Ross (D-Ark.)”

Rep. Leonard Boswell (D-Iowa) is a motorcyclist and understands the issues facing riders.  He has supported numerous measures for riders for street bikes and off-road bikes.  See the letter under Rep. Roscoe Bartlett.

Rep. Nick Rahall (D-WV) helped to ensure passage of the legislation to fund the National Recreational Trails Act and a supporter of multi-use for public lands.

Rep. Donald Manzullo (R-IL) Aided in the fight against banning off-highway vehicles from federal land. 

Senator Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) is a former rider, therefore, takes a keen interest in motorcyclists’ rights in her state of Maine.  Those of us involved with the Patriot Guard should have a keen interest in Senator Snowe’s stance on protecting the sanctity of funerals. 

The Portland Press Herald contained an article on April 14, 2011 in which Senator Snowe was quoted as saying, “Families of fallen troops have earned the right to bury their loved ones in peace.”  When the Supreme Court ruled earlier to permit the Westboro Baptist Church to continue its disrespectful protests at military funerals Senator Snowe said lawmakers should step in with stronger protection for the families.  She introduced the Sanctity of Eternal Rest for Veterans Act which was later shortened to the SERVE Act, to keep rowdy protesters from getting too close to military funerals and to increase penalties for breaking rules of conduct. 

“Those who fight and die in the service of our country deserve our highest respect.  The SERVE Act strikes a balance between the sanctity of a funeral service and the right to free speech.”

The Act would change federal law to increase quiet time, or time when protests are not allowed, from one hour to two and to increase the distance protesters are banned from the funeral site.  Senator Snowe has also been a champion of bicyclists’ rights and has introduced some legislation on their behalf.

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