RIDING FREE FROM DC:

By September 6, 2019General Posts

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.

Motorcycle Only Check Points:
For years the motorcycle community tried to pass legislation to address motorcycle-only checkpoints. Numerous stand-alone bills were introduced in both the Senate and House to address this issue. Unfortunately, none of these bills became law.

However, our champions and allies in Congress used a new tactic in 2015 to address the issue. In late 2015 Congress passed the Highway Bill known formally as Fixing American Surface Transportation Act or the FAST ACT. Included in the FAST Act was Section 4007: STOP MOTORCYCLE CHECKPOINT FUNDING. It read as follows:

Notwithstanding section 153 of title 23, United States Code, the Secretary may not provide a grant or any funds to a State, county, town, township, Indian tribe, municipality, or other local government that may be used for any program— (1) to check helmet usage; or (2) to create checkpoints that specifically target motorcycle operators or motorcycle passengers.

In short, states and local governments can’t use federal dollars to create motorcycle-only checkpoints.

While getting this language included in the FAST Act was a victory it did have one catch, the Fast Act is only valid until the end of 2020.  Sometime in the next 16 months, Congress must pass a new highway bill to replace the FAST Act. That means that we, as the motorcycle community, need to ensure that the ban on federal funding for motorcycle-only check points is included in new legislation.

We at the MRF have started that process by meeting with lawmakers on the relevant committees in the House and Senate to make our case. As we begin this process, we may reach out to specific state chapters for help with their elected officials. Keep your eyes open for calls to action on this topic. We must educate lawmakers that motorcyclists will not accept being targeted strictly because we ride.

Back to Work:
After a six week recess, the House and Senate return to D.C. on Monday the 9th. One of the main focuses of September will be a passage of appropriations bills that fund the federal government. The government’s fiscal year ends on September 30th and if the funding bills aren’t passed, we will have another government shutdown.

The six-week break for lawmakers doesn’t mean that their staffs have not been busy during the August recess. Your D.C. team logged a total of 59 Hill meetings during recess. In some cases, doing staff meetings during August can be more effective. With their bosses gone staffers have more time to chat about issues and focus on our asks. Ideally, some of the seeds we planted during the August recess will bear fruit as we head into the Fall.


Standing Update:
We are currently at 76 cosponsors from 33 states and one territory for H. Res 255, the motorcycle profiling resolution. This is an increase of 12 new cosponsors during the August recess. We also added our first lawmakers from Arkansas, Georgia, New Jersey, South Carolina, Utah, and West Virginia. The map below shows which states have at least one lawmaker signed on as a cosponsor.
We also have a handful of lawmakers who made commitments to us regarding cosponsoring and we hope to see them officially added soon. Click HERE to see if your member has signed on to H. Res 255.

Rocky & Tiffany
The Motorcycle Riders Foundation

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.