Kentucky Modifies Adult Helmet Law --- BUT!

At 3:00pm Governor Paul Patton signed the Helmet Law Repeal Bill into law. HB 106 cleared its final hurdle on February 24, 1998, when the state Senate voted 35-3 to send the helmet law repeal bill to the governor's desk. Effective July 15, 1998, Kentucky will be helmet free for adults 21 or older, providing they can show proof of medical insurance. Jay Huber, Kentucky Motorcycle Association/KBA President, stated, "It is now official and this battle has been won. We now must prepare for the next battle to remove the unfriendly amendment and to help our friends in office stay there and our opponents to look for a new job." Regarding the controversial insurance provision, Huber went on to say, "First off, we do not like this provision and did all we could to kill it without jeopardizing our bill". The KMA/KBA plans to lobby the remainder of the session for a legislative remedy and/or pursue the matter in the courts. Similar legislation is pending in California and Florida with the support of some motorcyclists.

The Motorcycle Riders Foundation remains vigorously opposed to accepting PIP-type stipulations on helmet law repeals. Such concessions by motorcyclists' rights groups (MRO) are, in fact, conceding that riding a motorcycle is such a high risk activity that it warrants discriminatory treatment under the law. Adult helmet laws, by nature, discriminate against motorcyclists by denying the them the authority to be responsible for their own welfare and mandatory PIP requirements do exactly the same thing. The MRF believes these requirements will ultimately lead to prohibitive insurance costs.

For many years the MRF and other MRO's have been successfully contended that motorcyclists are not a social burden. MRF President Mark Buckner stated, "The actions taken by motorcyclists in Texas and Kentucky accepted social burden status in exchange for relief from helmet laws with the expectation of fixing the problem after the fact with further legislative action or litigation. The problems with this plan in the legislative arena are attempting to change a law previously supported while maintaining the respect of legislators, withdrawing their concession on the social burden issue, and expecting legislators who merely agreed to change from one social burden requirement to another to suddenly abandon their position. The challenge of fighting this legislation in the courts is not likely to be easier than lobbying legislators and, even if successful, does not alleviate the need to work in the legislature." The most successful effort in helmet law history (Illinois Supreme Court 1969) has not stopped the Illinois legislature from proposing anti-motorcycle legislation including helmet laws.


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