Alerts and other info from the MRF
RIDING FREE FROM DC: Your Weekly Biker Bulletin from Inside the Beltway
Your Motorcycle Riders Foundation team in Washington, D.C. is pleased to provide our members with the latest information and updates on issues that impact the freedom and safety of American street motorcyclists. Count on your MRF to keep you informed about a range of matters that are critical to the advancement of motorcycling and its associated lifestyle. Published weekly when the U.S. Congress is in session.
Congress Working from Home?
Like most American workplaces, Congress is trying to adapt to our new normal. The Capitol Complex remains closed to the public, and Congress has pushed back its return to D.C. until early May. Most Congressional staff is working from home, and most lawmakers have returned to their home states.
One interesting fact is that both Senate and House rules require that lawmakers must physically be present to vote on legislation. As many of you have attended Bikers Inside the Beltway will remember, Members of Congress are often seeing scurrying from their offices to the House or Senate floors for votes. Last year, some of our members gave the “elevator pitch” to a Congressmen heading to vote. By the time the ride was over, he had agreed to cosponsor our legislation.
If you haven’t seen the cosponsor numbers change on some of our legislative priorities, this is also a product of the Congressional lockdown. To add a cosponsor to a bill, Congressional staff must physically submit a form on the floor when Congress is in session. With Congress gone and access to the floor strictly limited, adding cosponsors has been nearly impossible.
There are growing calls to change these rules and allow for some form of electronic voting or proxy voting. Yet, at the moment, these proposals have been rejected. Lawmakers that live within driving distance of Washington D.C. have been told to be ready to return to the Capitol on short notice if and when votes are required. What’s considered driving distance to D.C.? Well, we at the MRF have members ride all the way from California to attend Bikers Insider the Beltway, so let’s hope lawmakers aren’t afraid of a long drive back to D.C. if needed.
Push and Pushback on AV Legislation
Last week Republicans in the House of Representatives pushed the idea that AV technology could aid in the fight against COVID-19. A statement released by Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee stated,
“Americans are wisely moving their daily lives to their homes during COVID-19 and following recommendations from public health officials to distance themselves from others. At the same time, these changes present hurdles as people seek to stock up on medical supplies, groceries, and other necessities without exposing themselves to this virus. Self-driving cars, or autonomous vehicles, can be a part of the American advantage in meeting this challenge—if Congress steps up.”
Not surprisingly, this was met with push back by critics of past and current AV proposals, including Consumer Reports and the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety. Consumer Reports stated in a letter to Congressional leaders,
“At this time of national emergency, Congress should be focusing on ensuring the health and financial well-being of families and individuals, not rushing forward with inadequate AV legislation that puts the interests of the auto industry and tech companies ahead of people’s safety on the road.”
This back and forth on AV legislation is an example of the political adage that you “never let a good crisis go to waste.” Both political parties are looking for opportunities in the massive pieces of legislation moving through Congress to win policy victories.
We as motorcyclists need to remain steadfast and ensure that the rights and safety of motorcyclists are not ignored in a rush to pass legislation. In the coming weeks, we will roll out additional calls to action. We thank all that have answered past calls and help spread our message far and wide.
State News – Idaho passes a distracted driving law
Distracted Driving HB 614 passed both the House and the Senate and has been sent to the Idaho Governor Little to sign it into law. After a rash of injuries and deaths in North Idaho starting about three years ago, ABATE of North Idaho (ANI) held a rally to find out how to end the needless accidents and deaths. We found that Idaho only had a No Texting law, and the journey began. ANI spent two years building a coalition of like-minded groups such as the Trucking Association, Tow Truck Operators, Law Enforcement Agencies, Bicycling, and Running groups. Even with a growing coalition working diligently, they remained unsuccessful in passing a law. On the third year, the coalition grew by adding the Idaho Insurance Lobby, Idaho Coalition of Motorcycle Safety (ICMS), Fallen Rider Fund Idaho along with gaining the statewide support of Law enforcement, the legislation passed with a heavy majority vote from both chambers. The law takes effect in 6 months, with only warnings being issues until that time.
This legislation became law only through the hard work that everyone involved in the beginning by recognizing the importance of building a coalition and getting ICMS, FRFI, and Law Enforcement during the final year. Thank you to all who were part of this journey, as this would never have gotten completed without everyone’s help. The very best thing about its passage is that it helps and protects everyone in the state. It is for all Idahoans, not just the motorcycle riders. Still, it only shows that we can all work together for the betterment of all.
How are you staying sane during the quarantine? The D.C. team has picked up some new hobbies to pass the time. Rocky is growing a quarantine beard, and Tiffany is learning how to build guns.
About Motorcycle Riders Foundation
The Motorcycle Riders Foundation (MRF) provides leadership at the federal level for states’ motorcyclists’ rights organizations as well as motorcycle clubs and individual riders. The MRF is chiefly concerned with issues at the national and international levels that impact the freedom and safety of American street motorcyclists. The MRF is committed to being a national advocate for the advancement of motorcycling and its associated lifestyle and works in conjunction with its partners to help educate elected officials and policymakers in Washington and beyond.
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