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MRF News

For Immediate Release

July 14, 2020

Missouri Governor Signs HB1963T - Including Helmet Repeal

This afternoon, Missouri Governor Mike Parson signed legislation that would modify the current helmet law in the “Show Me State.” The new law, which will go into effect August 28, 2020, allows motorcyclists to ride without helmets if they are 26 years of age or older and have medical insurance.
Freedom of Road Riders Legislative Coordinator Amy Allmon said “Persistence actually pays off, on Tuesday July 14th at 1:30pm Missouri Governor Mike Parson signed our helmet modification bill. Freedom of choice in Missouri!” When asked for a reaction, MRF Chairman of the board, Kirk “Hardtail” Willard had this to say, “The Motorcycle Riders Foundation celebrates today with the bikers of Missouri on their victory of freedom of choice. It's incredible to realize the State Motorcyclist Rights Organizations have spent nearly four decades pursuing their freedom. Given today’s political environment this is truly rarified air. Ride free Missouri.”

Congratulations to the Freedom of Road Riders, ABATE for Missouri and all those who never quit in the fight to let those who ride, decide!


For Immediate Release

July 1, 2020

BIKERS WIN BIG IN THE HOUSE, PREPARING FOR SENATE VERSION

Today the full House of Representatives passed H.R. 2, INVEST in America Act (Moving Forward Act), also known as the highway bill. The bill is over 2,000 pages and includes five beneficial provisions for motorcyclists.

At every step along the way, the Motorcycle Riders Foundation (MRF), our State Motorcyclist Rights Organizations (SMRO) partners, and individual members have fought for the inclusion of these policy changes. The original bill included an increase in motorcycle safety funding; however, this was the only specific mention of motorcycles or motorcyclists. During the Transportation Committee markup of the bill, protections related to profiling, autonomous vehicles and the Motorcyclist Advisory Council were added via amendment. Finally, during the final vote on the House floor, an additional amendment was added that helps collect data on motorcycle profiling.

With the passage of this bill in the House of Representatives, focus will now turn to the Senate. The Senate will likely roll out its own version of a “highway bill” in the coming weeks. The House and Senate will then have to negotiate and compromise to develop a bill that can pass both chambers and be signed into law. Remember, the current legislation expires on September 30, 2020, so Congress must act to ensure important transportation programs are funded.

After the final vote, MRF President Kirk “Hardtail” Willard stated, “I am pleased that in this massive 2,300 page piece of legislation passed today, the rights and freedoms of motorcyclists were not ignored. Let’s now take the same enthusiasm and passion that won us these victories to the Senate. Our work is not done, we must remain vigilant in the defense of these hard fought priorities.”

We at the MRF will fight to ensure that these hard-fought victories in the House of Representatives are included in the Senate’s bill. Thank you to everyone who reached out to their Representative over the past few months. These victories for motorcyclists would be impossible without the grassroots efforts of our members. Let’s celebrate our successes and get to work on making sure the Senate follows suit.

Below is a brief recap of the five provisions that the House of Representatives has now passed and included in this major piece of legislation:

Profiling: An amendment by Congressman Troy Balderson (OH-R) during the committee process changes federal law to prevent state and local governments from using funds from the Department of Transportation to “profile and stop motorcycle operators or motorcycle passengers using as a factor the clothing or mode of transportation of such operators or passengers.”

A second amendment by Congressman Tim Walberg (MI-R) and Congressman Michael Burgess (TX-R) added the term “mode of transportation” to a newly created grant program for racial and ethnic profiling. The program allows states to use federal money to collect data on traffic stops. Originally the only information that states were required to record was the driver’s racial and ethnic makeup. With this added language, states will be required to collect the “mode of transportation” of the person being stopped as well. Motorcyclists will now be able to review state data on traffic stops and determine if motorcyclists are stopped disproportionally by law enforcement. This amendment was a joint effort by the Co-Chairmen of the House Motorcycle Caucus and was added just hours before the final bill was passed.

Motorcyclist Advisory Council: Congressman Mike Gallagher (WI-R) used the committee amendment process to re-establish the Motorcyclist Advisory Council (MAC) and make needed changes. The MAC has existed for over a decade and allows federal policymakers, state highway officials, and motorcyclists to discuss the unique demands of riding a motorcycle and how roads, bridges, and other infrastructure can be built to better account for motorcyclists’ needs.

Congressman Gallagher’s addition to the bill creates dedicated seats at the table for motorcyclists’ rights groups and manufacturers. It also requires a report every two years to be made to the Secretary of Transportation and Congress.

Autonomous Vehicles: During the committee process, Congressman Troy Balderson (OH-R) won protections for motorcyclists in the rollout of autonomous vehicle technology. The bill now includes specific language requiring that when the Department of Transportation conducts safety studies on autonomous vehicles, motorcycles must be considered as unique roadway users. Additionally, a newly formed working group on autonomous vehicles must include a motorcyclist safety group as part of its membership. As with the MAC, motorcyclists need a seat at the table when our safety and freedoms are being debated.

Motorcyclist Safety Funds: The bill, as first introduced, would increase the 405 safety funds made available to states for motorcyclist safety by $1,473,285 for the next fiscal year with increases through 2025. This is an increase in the program of roughly 34% over current funding levels. Under this bill, the total amount available to states in the next fiscal year would be $5,761,785.

 


 

 

 

Call To Action

Later this week, the full House of Representatives will take a final vote on H.R. 2 INVEST in America Act, also known as the "Highway Bill." This 2,000 plus page bill includes three important protections for motorcyclists, they are:

 

Sec 3011: The Stop Motorcycle Check Point Funding, which helps protect motorcyclists from profiling by law enforcement because of their mode of transportation or clothing.

 

Sec. 3012: Motorcyclist Advisory Council would be reestablished, allowing motorcyclists a seat at the table when discussing federal infrastructure programs.

 

Section 5304: Study on Safe Interactions Between Automated Vehicles and Road Users ensures that motorcycles are included in any safety study on autonomous vehicles and that motorcyclists are involved in government working groups on these autonomous vehicle studies.

 

Please take 2 minutes to reach out to your lawmaker and ask them to vote YES on H.R. 2. If this bill passes, the Senate will then be "on the clock" to pass a version of their Highway bill before the September 30th deadline.

 

Take Action

 

Ride Free,

The DC Team

 


 

For Immediate Release

June 19, 2020

HOUSE TRANSPORTATION BILL PASSES OUT OF COMMITTEE

 

Yesterday was a GREAT day for the motorcycling community on Capitol Hill. The House Transportation and Infrastructure passed out of committee H.R. 2, the "Investing in a New Vision for the Environment and Surface Transportation in America Act" or the "INVEST in America Act." This nearly 1,000-page bill includes four provisions that both protect motorcyclists and acknowledge our unique place in the transportation system. The legislation approved Thursday night would authorize highway, transit, and rail programs through fiscal year 2025.

 

Remember, this is just the first step in the Highway Bill Reauthorization process. The House of Representatives still need to take a final vote on the measure, and the Senate has yet to introduce their version of the bill. The House plans to bring this massive surface transportation bill to the floor for a vote on June 30, 2020. The deadline for Congress to act on a Highway Bill Reauthorization is September 30, 2020.

 

A special thanks to MRF members and SMRO’s who called and emailed their representatives to support these amendments. These victories in Washington D.C. would not be possible without the grassroots efforts of our members around the country. Your voices matter, and with your help, we can deliver more victories for motorcyclists.

 

The MRF would also like to thank our champions on the committee who worked during the hearing, and behind the scenes, to protect and advance the priorities of motorcyclists. While not an exhaustive list, the MRF would like to thank: Representatives Troy Balderson (OH-R), Sharice Davids (KS-D), Rodney Davis (IL-R), Pete DeFazio (OR-D), Mike Gallagher (WI-R), Sam Graves (MO-R), Jared Huffman (CA-D), Chris Pappas (NH-D), Donald Payne (NJ-D), Harley Rouda (CA-D), Pete Stauber (MN-R) and Don Young (AK-R).

 

 

Below is a brief summary of the bill and its amendments that address motorcyclists' issues.

 

Autonomous Vehicles - Congressman Troy Balderson (OH-R) introduced a two-part amendment focused on autonomous vehicles and motorcycles. The first part requires that when the Department of Transportation (DOT) conducts safety studies on autonomous vehicles, the unique profile and characteristics of motorcycles and riders must be included in any study.

 

The second part ensures that a motorcycle safety group is included in the DOT working group on autonomous vehicle deployment. Motorcyclists need a seat at the table, so that our voices are heard.

 

Speaking on the topic, Congressman Balderson said, “As a rider, I have a unique perspective on how transportation issues affect the everyday lives of Ohioans. Our nation’s roads get us to where we need to go each day, yet they are crumbling at our feet. We need to make sure a broad infrastructure package addresses these needs and works for all Americans—not just some of us.”

 

The Balderson Amendment #21 PASSED UNANIMOUSLY and is now part of the final bill. 

 

 

Checkpoints / Profiling – The provisions passed in the "Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act" known as the "FAST Act" in 2015 regarding motorcycle-only checkpoints were not changed in this bill. This means that states and local governments will continue to be prohibited from using federal funds to establish motorcycle-only checkpoints. This federal provision complements the nearly 20 states who have outlawed motorcycle-only checkpoints.

 

In addition to retaining the prohibition on funding motorcycle-only checkpoints, Congressman Balderson offered an amendment that would prohibit using federal funds to profile and stop motorcycle operators or passengers using, as a factor, the apparel they are wearing or their mode of transportation. This amendment is consistent with our anti-profiling resolution and would be an acknowledgment by Congress that motorcyclists should not be profiled because of what they wear or ride.

 

The Balderson Amendment #25 PASSED UNANIMOUSLY and is now part of the final bill.

 

 

Motorcyclist Advisory Council (MAC) - Congressman Mike Gallagher (WI-R) introduced an amendment that would reestablish the Motorcyclist Advisory Council and create dedicated seats at the table for motorcycle rights groups and manufacturers. The MAC has existed for over a decade and allows federal policymakers, state highway officials and motorcyclists to discuss the unique demands of riding a motorcycle and how roads, bridges and other infrastructure can be built to better account for motorcyclists needs.

 

While speaking on behalf of his amendment, Congressman Gallagher said, “My amendment reauthorizes an important advisory council at DOT for the motorcycle community. Motorcycle usage has increased 25% since 2012 with nearly 9 million registered vehicles on the road. With this many motorcycles on the road, it is vital that this industry has a direct line of communication to the regulators.”

 

The Gallagher Amendment #116 PASSED UNANIMOUSLY and is now part of the final bill.

 

 

Safety Funds – The bill passed today by the House Transportation Committee would increase funds made available to states for motorcycle safety by $1,488,285. This is an increase in the program of approximately 35% over current funding levels. Under this bill, the total amount available to states in the next fiscal year would be $5,776,785.

 

MRF Vice President Jay Jackson commented, “Now more than ever, state rider education programs need this assistance to continue to offer quality programs to train motorcyclists.”

 

While we at the MRF are happy to see Congress increase the funding for state motorcycle programs, the increase in these funds only allocates approximately $0.67 per motorcyclist in the country. This is a good first step, but motorcycle safety isn’t something we should skimp on.

 

 

 

 


For Immediate Release

June 18, 2020

UPDATE: ALL THREE AMENDMENTS PASS COMMITTEE

The Motorcycle Riders Foundation (MRF) is pleased to update our members that all three of our high priority motorcyclist amendments have just passed with unanimous consent after being placed in a bipartisan en bloc vote during this morning's hearing. After lengthy negotiations between both parties, each side agreed to put 18 amendments in a single en bloc vote to help speed up proceedings in the markup of H.R. 2, the INVEST in America Act.

 

The MRF wants to thank all of our members and partners for engaging with their member of Congress to ensure the priorities of motorcyclists were addressed during this process. We will send out a full release later today on the hearing but wanted to alert our members who have been following the hearing proceedings over the past two days.

 


For Immediate Release

June 17, 2020

House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Highway Bill Hearing

Today is an exciting day for the Motorcycle Riders Foundation (MRF) and the entire motorcycling community. At 10:00 a.m. today, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will markup H.R. 2, the “Investing in a New Vision for the Environment and Surface Transportation in America” Act (INVEST in America Act). Sometimes known as the Highway Bill or Transportation Bill, this piece of legislation must be reauthorized by Congress every four to six years. The current Highway Bill, “Fixing America’s Surface Transportation” Act, also known as the FAST Act, expires on September 30, 2020.

 

The “markup” of the INVEST in America Act, is a formal process of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. This allows all of its 60 plus members to offer amendments and changes to the bill before it heads to the House floor for a final vote.

 

The Transportation Committee is the largest in Congress and usually a place where bipartisanship is the rule, not the exception. Unfortunately, as has been the case in Washington over the past few years, partisanship has infiltrated the Transportation Committee. The INVEST in America Act was written solely by the Democrats who have the majority control of the House of Representatives. This has led to an unusual situation. Today, almost 300 amendments will be considered by the committee. Most of these will be introduced by Republicans, who are using this as an opportunity to promote their policy priorities.

 

As you know, we at the MRF like to say: “We don’t vote Republican, We don’t vote Democrat, We vote motorcyclist.” As today unfolds, there are four key areas, we at the MRF will be watching:

 

  1. Motorcyclist Safety Funds
  2. Motorcyclist Advisory Council
  3.  Autonomous Vehicle Technology
  4. Motorcycle-Only Check Points / Profiling

Here’s a brief outline of what may transpire over the next several hours in Washington DC.

 

Motorcyclist Safety Funds: The INVEST in America Act as introduced would increase funds made available to states for motorcyclist safety by $1,473,285. This is an increase in the program of roughly 34% over current funding levels. Under this bill, the total amount available to states in the next fiscal year would be $5,761,785. While we at the MRF are happy to see Congress increase the funding level for state motorcyclists safety programs, this new $5.7 million amount still only equates to approximately $0.67 per motorcycle in the country.

 

Motorcyclist Advisory Council: The MRF has advocated for Gallagher Amendment #116 introduced by Congressmen Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin. This amendment would re-establish the Motorcyclist Advisory Council and create dedicated seats at the table for motorcyclists’ rights groups and manufacturers. The MAC has existed for over a decade and allows federal policymakers, state highway officials, and motorcyclists to discuss the unique demands of riding a motorcycle and how roads, bridges, and other infrastructure can be built to better account for motorcyclists’ needs.

 

Autonomous Vehicle Technology: Congressman Troy Balderson of Ohio, a rider himself, will offer Balderson Amendment #21. This two-part amendment focuses on autonomous vehicles and motorcycles. The first part requires that when the Department of Transportation conducts safety studies on autonomous vehicles, motorcycles must be considered as unique roadway users. For example, autonomous vehicle technology must account for factors like lane splitting, something unique that is only relevant to motorcycles.  The second part ensures that a motorcycle safety group is included in the Department of Transportation working group on autonomous vehicle deployment. Once again, motorcyclists need a seat at the table, so our voices are heard.

 

Check Points / Profiling: The provisions passed in the FAST Act of 2015 regarding motorcycle-only checkpoints were not changed in this bill. This means that states and local governments will continue to be prohibited from using federal funds to establish motorcycle-only checkpoints. This federal provision complements the nearly 20 states who have outlawed motorcycle-only checkpoints in their states.

 

In addition to retaining the prohibition on funding motorcycle-only checkpoints, Congressman Balderson will offer amendment #25 that would prohibit using federal funds to profile and stop motorcycle operators or passengers, using as a factor, the apparel they are wearing or their mode of transportation. This amendment is consistent with our profiling resolution and would be an acknowledgment by Congress that motorcyclists should not be profiled because of what they wear or ride.

 

This markup is just the first step in a long journey that still requires the Senate to act and the President’s signature. As the day progresses, we will provide short updates on what is going on and how our priorities are faring. If you wish to follow along with today’s markup, the hearing begins at 10:00 a.m. eastern, and you can watch the live stream here.

 

 

Ride Safe and Ride Free,

The D.C. Team

 


Let's remind Congress of our 2020

Motorcyclist Legislative Priorities

Things are just not the same this week in D.C. In an ordinary world, the third week of May would be filled with motorcycles rolling down Constitution Avenue and hundreds of bikers roaming the halls of Congress.  The MRF D.C. Team is beyond disappointed that we had to cancel this year's Bikers Inside the Beltway. Nothing is better than hearing a few hundred motorcycles pull up the U.S. Capitol and seeing riders meet with Representatives and Senators to advocate on behalf of the motorcycle community. Citizen lobbyists can be the most compelling voices on Capitol Hill, and there is no question that Bikers Inside the Beltway creates a buzz that helps elevate our priorities with lawmakers.

Despite working from home and in abandoned office buildings, we have been hard at work advocating for our priorities in any way possible. Here are a few examples of what we've been up to. Kirk "Hardtail" Willard, the President of the MRF, sent nearly 100 personalized letters to members of the Transportation and Commerce committees outlining our asks in the upcoming 2020 Highway bill.

The DC team provided the leadership of each SMRO contact information for their Congressional delegation transportation staff, a prewritten email, and the 2020 legislative talking points. The leaders of each SMRO are personally emailing Congressional staff with the information we provided. So that despite not being in D.C. to deliver the message in person, they are receiving the message electronically. Tiffany and Rocky even recorded a 20 minute "How to" video detailing what we wanted to be done and explaining some of the issues we are advocating for legislatively.

We had several phone conversations with staff on Capitol Hill, including the Co-Chairman of the House Motorcycle Caucus Rep. Burgess (Texas) and Rep. Walberg (Michigan) as well as longtime motorcycle champion Senator Johnson (Wisconsin). We've also been in direct contact with committee staff in both the House and the Senate. This led to us being tipped off on the potential for helmet language being added to potential legislation.

In conjunction with ABATE of Ohio and the AMA, we held a streaming video meeting with Congressman Troy Balderson of Ohio. The Congressman, who is a biker and a member of the Transportation Committee, outlined what he has been working on and took questions from us on our top priorities.  If we can find other lawmakers willing to do a similar type of meeting, we will invite the SMRO in that state to join.

Now we are turning to you! Since we cannot be seen on Capitol Hill this week, we need them to hear us! Please click on this link and contact your elected officials. It takes just a few minutes to send a letter to Congress outlining the priorities of the MRF. And since sharing is caring, please share this link with other riders, so we overwhelm these lawmakers with numbers.

Take Action

Have a fantastic Memorial Day weekend!

Your still quarantined D.C. team,

Rocky & Tiffany

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