11-11-2004

04NR42 - MRF Probes Georgia Lobbying Activity

MRF E-MAIL NEWS
Motorcycle Riders Foundation
P.O. Box 1808
Washington, DC 20013-1808
202-546-0983 (voice)
202-546-0986 (fax)
http://www.mrf.org (website)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Karen Bolin, MRF President
karen@mrf.org (e-mail)

November 11, 2004

#04NR42 - MRF Probes Georgia Lobbying Activity

The MRF (Motorcycle Riders Foundation) spent the past several months researching lobbying activity surrounding rider education in Georgia. What has emerged is disturbing. Reliable sources have verified that as a result of these efforts all state funding to the GMSP (Georgia Motorcycle Safety Program) has been stripped. The Georgia program had been continually funded since 1986. Lobbying efforts have also been used to mount an assault, by industry representatives, on the Georgia state administrator. Equally disturbing, until recently, no communication on the part of the lobbyists was attempted with ABATE of Georgia, the SMRO responsible for the initial lobbying effort creating the GMSP in 1984.

In June 2002 the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) retained the services of the Omni Resource Group, a lobbying firm based in Atlanta. Meetings began shortly thereafter between the Georgia Commissioner of Motor Vehicle Safety and representatives of MSF, Omni Resource Group, Harley-Davidson and American Honda to address training concerns in Georgia. Neither ABATE of Georgia or the administrator of the GMSP were made aware that these meetings were taking place, or that MSF had concerns about training in Georgia. Additional meetings have been held since 2002, and in March of this year a ten-page letter of complaint was submitted by MSF, on behalf of their member companies, specifically targeting the Georgia state administrator. The MRF has also confirmed that over the past two years representatives of Harley-Davidson have actively lobbied both state and elected officials for the removal of the current state administrator.

The GMSP was at one time funded by an appropriation of a portion of the motorcycle license plate fee. This arrangement worked successfully for years. In November 2002, Sonny Perdue was elected Governor of Georgia, running partly on a platform of privatization of selected state services. Perdue assumed office in January 2003. During 2003, the training budget for rider education in Georgia went from $884,400 to zero. ABATE of Georgia, and the Georgia Commissioner of the DMV were able to successfully lobby $235,000 back into the 2003 budget. This year, 2004, the budget is again zero.

The MRF has confirmed that during the course of the 2003-2004 budget cycle representatives of the Omni Resource Group met with members of the Georgia State Senate Appropriations Committee. No effort was made by Omni to restore the funding. They did, however, explore the possibility with various state officials of MSF assuming administration of the GMSP. No representatives of the Omni Resource Group contacted ABATE of Georgia during this time.

At the present time, a working group has been formed within the GMSP Advisory Committee to address training issues in Georgia. ABATE of Georgia has a representative serving on the advisory committee. Furthermore ABATE of Georgia confirmed their first contact from the Omni Resource Group. Acting on behalf of MSF, Omni Resource Group has indicated MSF has no further interest in assuming administration of the GMSP. ABATE of Georgia has also confirmed recent meetings with industry representatives interested in assisting with the reestablishment of the rider training appropriation.


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(c)All Information contained in this release is copyrighted. Reproduction permitted with attribution. The Motorcycle Riders Foundation, incorporated in 1987, is a membership-based, national motorcyclists' rights organization headquartered in Washington, DC. The first motorcyclists' rights organization to establish a full-time presence in Washington, DC, the Motorcycle Riders Foundation is the only Washington voice devoted exclusively to the street rider. The MRF established MRFPAC in the early 1990s to advocate the election of candidates who would champion the cause of rider safety and rider freedom.

The MRF proudly claims state motorcyclists' rights organizations and the very founders of the American riders' rights movement among its leading members. The MRF is involved in federal and state legislation and regulations, motorcycling safety education, training, and public awareness. The MRF provides members and state motorcyclists' rights organizations with direction and information, and sponsors annual regional and national educational seminars for motorcyclists' rights activists, as well as publishing a bi-monthly newsletter, THE MRF REPORTS.




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