Anyone notice that there is a lot of noise in politics recently about motorcycles? Mostly related to the state helmet laws.
Big news in Nebraska is the Legislature discussing a bill to repeal the state’s motorcycle helmet law. Just for riders younger than 21? Keep the law as is? State Senator Charlie Janssen argues, “Because of the helmet law, many riders bypass the state, particularly to and from the massive summer motorcycle rally in Sturgis, S.D. That means business and tax dollars go elsewhere. Tourists vote with their dollars, and they are saying no to Nebraska.”
On the other side of the fence, when Florida repealed its helmet law in 2000, deaths from motorcycle crashes rose 24 percent, helmet use fell to 50 percent, and Medicaid costs to care for uninsured riders increased by $10 million, according to a study done for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The bill is on hold at the moment so senators can have time to review amendments that would require special insurance. Legislators did remove a piece stating that all motorcyclists have long-term care insurance for nursing home or home care, due to its $3,000 to $4,500 a year cost. They are also discussing a requirement that all motorcyclists have $1 million in medical care insurance. They aren’t even sure if insurance companies will offer this kind of coverage.
We’ll see how this one plays out.
In New Hampshire, they had a couple of motorcycle-related bills on the table. The first requiring all motorcyclists to wear helmets and the second making motorcycles made after 1982 to have noise emission system labels. These bills didn’t make it past the House of Representatives.
Many riders at the hearing said they wore helmets, but didn’t want to be forced to. Al Contois, president of Seacoast Harley-Davidson said, “Customers coming up from Massachusetts take their helmets off at the border. We have a motto here, ‘Live free and ride.’”
Although this one died, from what we’re hearing, this one may come back up again.
Here in Wisconsin, home of the Harley-Davidson, a bill is under consideration to make Harley-Davidson the official motorcycle of Wisconsin. Right now, it seems to be gaining momentum. If it passes the full Democratic-controlled Assembly and the Democratic-controlled Senate, then it hands off to Gov. Jim Doyle. We are definitely curious about this one.
So what do you think about motorcycles in politics?