Baton Rouge, Louisiana Senate Bill 86, sponsored by State Senator Ron Landry (D-19th Dist.), was signed last Friday (June 18,1999) by Governor Mike Foster (R). SB 86 will allow riders 18 years and older, who can show proof of $10,000 medical insurance, the option to ride without a helmet. The law will go into effect August 15th. Patty Davis, Legislative Coordinator for ABATE of Louisiana, Inc., said "We are all very excited (and exhausted!), and are already planning a freedom ride and celebration." Davis went on to say, "It was a long battle through the legislature, but we did it!" The Bill passed the House 70-23 with the original Senate vote of 22-12.
Mark Buckner President of the Motorcycle Riders Foundation said, "While MRF applauds the hard work and effort on the part of ABATE of Louisiana that went into enacting this law and while we respect the sovereignty of each state motorcyclists' rights organization, the MRF's position on accepting a requirement that motorcyclists carry proof of medical insurance in order to legally ride without a helmet is a dangerous policy that will lead us into more troublesome situations. By singling motorcyclists out in this manner, SB 86 supports the debunked social burden theory which claims motorcyclists are less likely than other road users to have adequate medical insurance coverage. MRF continues to encourage all state motorcyclists' rights organizations to pursue legislation that does not include such language."
SB 86 follows the model used in Texas and Kentucky in passing
helmet legislation containing health insurance requirements. Steve
Zimmer, Vice President of Government Relations for the MRF, added
"ABATE of Louisiana is to be commended for getting a helmet
law modified. Obviously, a bill without medical insurance requirements
would have been preferred. The MRF's concern is that mandatory
helmet laws and insurance requirements are two separate issues
and should be addressed as such." Zimmer went on to say,
"This trend of adding insurance requirements as a condition
of riding without a helmet ties directly into anti-motorcycling
arguments presented by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Additionally, a discriminatory law specifically requiring motorcyclists
to carry proof of insurance not required of other highway users
opens the door for police harassment and discrimination and creates
additional problems in enforcement on out-of-state riders. The
next logical step for the enemies of motorcycling would be to
drop helmet use language and leave the medical insurance requirement
for all motorcyclists."
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