At the 2014 Motorcycle Riders Foundation’s (MRF) 30th Anniversary Meeting of the Minds Conference held in September in Kansas City, Missouri, a Legislative Strategy Session was hosted by the MRF’s Legislative Committee. As has been done for the past several years, the MRF requested that it be attended by Sustaining State Motorcyclists’ Rights Organizations (SSMRO) Legislative and/or Executive Officers. We welcomed several representatives from our Sustaining Motorcycle Clubs and Organizations as well. The goal was to set the MRF’s Federal Legislative Agenda for the 2014 Meeting of the Minds to the 2015 Meeting of the Minds annual cycle.
The MRF’s SSMRO partners responded once again with a majority attendance that resulted in a healthy dialogue focused on motorcycling. The MRF Legislative Committee remains extremely pleased at the aligned and clear direction we experienced again this year from our SSMRO partners. This level of agreement continues to allow for solid action plans to be developed by our Legislative Committee and our Board of Directors that can be effectively employed by our Government Relations Department and our SSMRO partners while in Washington D.C. and in working federal issues in their home states. Additionally, we continue to see productive gains in state legislative activities that support our federal efforts when it comes to protecting on-road motorcyclists, motorcycling, and its associated lifestyle.
The MRF Legislative Committee continued the practice instituted four years ago of recording one vote per SSMRO in attendance. A full breakdown of each vote can be seen in the upcoming issue of the MRF Reports. The session this year was moderated by MRF Vice President, Jay Jackson, with support from MRF Vice President of Government Relations & Public Affairs, Jeff Hennie, and MRF President, Kirk “Hardtail” Willard.
- MAP 21 upcoming reauthorization (the Highway Bill) – To include Motorcycle 2010 type Grant Funding (the MRF to pursue the current levels of funding along with a request to tighten up language for qualification and use), continuation of the NHTSA Lobbying Ban, pursue reinstatement of the Motorcycle Advisory Council (MAC) to advise the FHWA (Federal Highway Administration), oppose any motorcycling related federal blackmails or federal sanctions contained in the highway bill; closely monitor for any action that would negatively impact motorcycles, motorcycling, and motorcyclists; seek to include HR1861 type language to ban motorcycle specific roadblock grant funding
- SAE Motorcycle Roadside Sound Test – The MRF to NOT promote the use of the SAE Sound Test as a National enforcement standard, majority considered this a state issue
- NHTSA motorcycle-specific checkpoint grant program – MRF to carry out a full effort to cut off specified use of funding for this motorcycle-based discriminatory practice, work with SMRO’s to exchange information on passing anti-checkpoint laws within the state, work to get new HR1861 like resolution language written and introduced
- Continue monitoring the Federal Crash Causation study and the MSF Naturalistic study
- Strongly oppose any federal standard proposing stamping and certifying of motorcycle exhaust systems
- Continue to oppose federal agency activity regarding EPA Sound Emission User studies and the encouragement of state activity with federal resources – again deemed to be a state issue
- Work to discourage ALL forms of distracted driving, and oppose all forms of funding blackmails or withholding of funds as related to motorcyclists, watch this issue closely for motorcycle specific discriminatory language
- Continue participation at the federal level where the definition of a motorcycle is under review taking advantage of any opportunity available to enhance and further clarify
- MRF will oppose any motorcycling, motorcycle, or motorcyclist-based discriminatory legislation or rules proposed by the U.S. Congress or by a federal agency
- MRF to seek a legislative vehicle to include motorcyclist anti-profiling language this upcoming session
- Continue participation in motorcycle related activity in the European Union, United Nations and Canada
- MRF to fiercely oppose any mandatory helmet or apparel standards
- MRF directed by our SSMRO’s to not support the use of ethanol fuels higher than E10 or any other newly developed fuel blends including alternative renewable fuels without further testing on motorcycle engines and obtaining specific recommendations from motorcycle manufacturers approving their use, MRF and SSMRO’s to continue to pursue passage of HR875 type language
- MRF to continue to insure the inclusion of motorcycles in ongoing Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) emerging technologies
- Pursue safer roadway design strategies at the federal level, include safer cable barrier research similar to European improvements in the discussion
- Continue to promote our theme of crash avoidance versus safer crashing, using the principles of HR1498 urging NHTSA to focus on crash prevention and rider education
- MRF to pursue limiting funding of the Center for Disease Control (CDC) for their increasing involvement in motorcycling safety issues
- MRF to pursue limiting of funding of CDC on their involvement in motorcycling safety issues through a relevant appropriations bill, pursue CDC lobby ban and seek to remove language where CDC suggests motorcycle crashes are preventable injury events. MRF to continue to support efforts to refocus the CDC on their mission as stated in the letter from Congressman Petri to the CDC on September 27th, 2013
- MRF to monitor private organizations that oppose the legislative agenda or mission of the MRF and investigate their funding sources to make certain they are not receiving federal tax dollars
- MRF to monitor public organizations for funding sources when in opposition to our legislative agenda or mission and respond appropriately if they receive federal tax dollars
- MRF to monitor and report on transportation entities that are active in motorcycling but by their charters or mission statements are or should be non-relevant to motorcycles
- MRF to monitor and report on non-transportation federal agencies becoming increasingly involved in motorcycling such as the Government Accountability Office (GAO)
- MRF to continue to closely monitor the federally mandated Affordable Health Care Act for potential motorcyclist and motorcycling discrimination
- MRF to fully engage the EPA on upcoming activity on motorcycle emission regulations and motorcycle drive train mandates
- MRF to support the Black Box Protection Act, currently HR2414, seek introduction of similar language in the upcoming Congress to regulate black boxes in motorcycles, seek to clarify the rights of the vehicle owner to ownership of the recorded data
- MRF to research fair tolling concepts on federally funded roads and roads supported by federal bonds
- Federal Agency Motorcycle Design Standards – MRF to oppose non-motorcycle manufacturer mandated specific design standards
- There was agreement that while the handling of non-motorcycle powered two and three wheelers such and mopeds, scooters, and the various cabin based steering wheel type vehicles was considered a state by state issue that there would be an effort to get these removed from motorcycle crash statistics if they do not have to follow the existing motorcycle licensing program in the state.
With the current U.S. Congress, combined with our comprehensive and aggressive legislative agenda, the MRF Legislative Committee strongly encourages our SSMRO partners and our MRF members to actively engage in a lively motorcycling dialogue with their U.S. House of Representative and U.S. Senate Members as an immediate priority. We will need a strong presence going into the new 114th Congress as well. If your SSMRO needs any assistance in planning a trip to Washington D.C. to begin or strengthen the dialogue with your members of Congress, contact Jeff Hennie in the MRF office at 202-546-0983 or Jeff@mrf.org. We would also like to encourage you to finalize your plans to attend our national biker lobby day event in Washington D.C., Bikers Inside the Beltway, on Thursday May 14th, 2015. See our website at www.mrf.org for more details.