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MRF update: Highway Bill Passes – a Year Late

By General Posts

November 5, 2021

Highway Bill Passes… a Year Late

After a 13-month delay and enactment of three separate extensions, Congress finally passed a surface transportation reauthorization bill. This bill, sometimes called the highway bill or the infrastructure bill, has been a hotly debated topic in D.C. for several years. Once signed by the President, the bill will reauthorize many highway programs, provide funding for road and bridge construction and replace the previous highway bill passed in 2015, known as the FAST Act.

Just a week ago, Congress gave itself a third extension running into December. Yet election victories by Republican candidates, especially a win by the GOP in the Virginia governor’s race, seems to have spooked Democrats, and motivated passage of a bill that has been awaiting a vote since the summer.

For the last two years, the House of Representatives and Senate have battled over transportation priorities and funding levels. In both 2020 and 2021, the House of Representatives passed versions of their highway bill, only to be rebuffed by the Senate. Under pressure from President Biden, the Senate finally acted, passing in August a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill. This action by the Senate, effectively forced the House to accept the Senate version of the bill or continue to pass short term extensions of current law.

However, pressure from the left wing of the Democratic party delayed a vote on the Senate’s infrastructure bill until an unconnected piece of legislation, referred to as the “human infrastructure bill,” was agreed to. That bill, called “Build Back Better,” had an original price tag of $3.5 trillion and effectively held the infrastructure bill hostage. After months of debate, and Tuesday’s election results, House Democrats agreed to vote on a smaller Build Back Better bill later in the month, opening the door to a final vote on the infrastructure bill.

At 11:27pm Friday night, the House agreed to the Senate’s bill and passed a $1.2 trillion 5-year highway bill, known as the INVEST ACT. The final vote in the House was 228 to 206, with 13 Republicans voting in favor and 6 Democrats voting against.

BENEFITS TO BIKERS

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.

Visit MRF Website at: https://mrf.org/

Myth, Mystery & Weirdness of the legend of Ganja

By General Posts

The mysterious weirdness about the legend of the ganja
by Amy Irene White with images from the Bob T. collection
10/29/2021

One of the most exasperatingly ridiculous brick walls in Washington DC is, the age-old conundrum of legalizing marijuana.

Throughout the years, marijuana has gone through many transformations in the public eye.

House Veterans Affairs Committee (HVAC) were scheduled to conduct a legislative hearing on Wednesday, October 13th, which included consideration of the bipartisan VA Cannabis Research Act of 2021, HR 2916. So far, there have been no updates, when I wrote this.

The legislation “would direct the VA to conduct clinical research with varying forms of medicinal cannabis to evaluate the safety and effects of cannabis on health outcomes of veterans with PTSD and veterans with chronic pain.”

CLICK HERE for a Feature Report on the State of the Myth, Mystery & Legend of Ganja

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Is the Highway Bill Moving Forward?

By General Posts

On September 30th, numerous highway funding programs will expire unless Congress acts. Currently, there are two separate and dramatically different highway bills in Congress. These bills go by many different names but are often referred to as infrastructure bills by the news media.

The first bill, passed by the House of Representatives in June with a price tag of $750 billion dollars includes six priorities of the MRF.

  • Continued ban on NHTSA lobbying in the states
  • 32% Increase of Motorcycle Safety Training Funds
  • Reestablishment of the Motorcyclist Advisory Council at the Department of Transportation
  • Increased restrictions on motorcycle only check points and the profiling of bikers
  • Inclusion of the types of vehicles stopped to federally collected data on traffic stops
  • Inclusion of the ability to detect and respond to motorcycles as a requirement of autonomous vehicle studies

The Senate bill passed in August, with a cost of 1.2 trillion includes just three of those priorities.

  • Continued ban on NHTSA lobbying in the states
  • 32% Increase of Motorcycle Safety Training Funds
  • Reestablishment of the Motorcyclist Advisory Council at the Department of Transportation

There are four potential outcomes. First, the Senate can pass the House bill. This is unlikely as Senators have been forceful in their desire to take the lead on infrastructure. Second, the two chambers can merge their bills together, finding common ground. This too is unlikely as it is time consuming, and the deadline is fast approaching. Third, the House can vote on the Senate bill. Speaker Pelosi has scheduled a vote for next week to try this path.

However, members of her party have voiced their concerns over moving this piece of legislation until they get a larger 3.5 trillion-dollar bill focused on what many are calling “human infrastructure.” If that vote fails the fourth option comes into play, which is another extension of the current law for weeks, months or years.

The next few days will be critical in the fight to make bikers a priority in our transportation system. Stay tuned and we will update you as events unfold in Washington, D.C.

MRF website at http://mrf.org

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.

House Passes Highway Bill – Biker Priorities Included

By General Posts

Thursday morning the full House of Representatives passed H.R. 3684 the Investing in a New Vision for the Environment and Surface Transportation in America Act or the INVEST in America Act. This bill is more commonly referred to as the highway bill. The bill is over 1,500 pages, spends $715 billion and includes five beneficial provisions for motorcyclists. The final vote on passage was 221 for and 201 against. Two Republicans voted in favor and no Democrats opposed.

The Senate has begun work on their version of the highway bill and the two chambers will eventually need to work out the differences before an agreed upon bill is sent to the President for his signature. Traditionally, a highway bill has a five-year lifespan before Congress must fund and reauthorize programs again. Typically, highway bills occur in years ending in 0’s and 5’s. The last highway bill expired in 2020 but was given a one-year extension as Congress was unable to reach a compromise. Congress now faces a September 30th deadline to pass a new highway bill and reauthorize crucial transportation and safety related programs.

Below is a brief recap of the five motorcyclist related items that the House of Representatives approved and included in this major piece of legislation:

Profiling: The bill includes an update to current federal law on the issue of motorcycle only check points. The bill passed today includes language that prohibits 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.”

Traffic Stop Data Collection: An amendment to the bill 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 could use the funds for was to record was the driver’s racial and ethnic makeup. With this added language, states will have access to funds to collect the “mode of transportation” of the person being stopped. If states choose to participate in the program, motorcyclists will have access to 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: H.R. 3684 includes a section that reestablishes the Motorcyclist Advisory Council (MAC) and makes 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. The bill creates dedicated seats on the council for motorcyclists’ rights groups and manufacturers. It also requires a report every two years be made to the Secretary of Transportation and Congress.

Autonomous Vehicles: The INVEST Act 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 passed, would increase the 405 safety funds made available to states for motorcyclist safety by $1,470,000 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 $5,760,000.

Visit and join Motorcycle Riders Foundation at https://mrf.org/