07-29-2005

05NR19 - 109th United States Congress Passes Highway Bill, Landmark Victory for Motorcyclists

MRF E-MAIL NEWS
Motorcycle Riders Foundation
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Jeff Hennie, MRF Vice-President of Government Relations
jeff@mrf.org (e-mail)

July 29, 2005

#05NR19 - 109th United States Congress Passes Highway Bill, Landmark Victory for Motorcyclists

The US Congress voted today to enact HR 3, the highway bill. The final version that was passed out of conference committee and eventually out of both bodies of Congress contains all of the motorcycle provisions the Motorcycle Riders Foundation (MRF), State Motorcycle Rights Organizations (SMRO) and many individuals have lobbied for over the past two years. The MRF thanks every SMRO, and individual motorcyclist who came to DC to lobby, made phone calls and sent comments to advocate for this important legislation. This milestone would not have been reached without your support.

The powerful Alaskan Congressional delegation deserves credit for the inclusion of the motorcycle language. The MRF thanks Representative Don Young (R-AK) for his promise to keep the motorcycle language in the final version of the bill, Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) for her dedication to the motorcycling community and Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK) for his tireless defense of motorcyclists. The MRF would also like to thank ABATE of Alaska for maintaining positive relationships with their federal elected officials. Without the first name basis relationships that ABATE of AK has with their elected officials, this victory might not have been.

"Motorcyclists are an important part of the traveling public and it's about time Congress helped out." stated Senator Lisa Murkowski, "I'm convinced education is the best way to increase safety and decrease accidents. I think this turned out to be a great bill for bikers; we both defeated universal helmet laws, and did something that will really be productive. I was glad to be a part of it, and I want to thank MRF, and especially Boyd McFail and my friends at ABATE of Alaska, for the support that made it happen."

The multi-year surface transportation legislation will infuse much-needed funds into the nation’s crumbling roads and bridges and at the same time address traffic congestion, mass transit systems, and highway safety. The reauthorization language marks several highlights for motorcycle safety. Title II, section 2010 implements a grant program for motorcycle safety training and awareness programs making available $25 million dollars through 2009. The grants, none less than $100,000 per year, per state, will be available to individual states.
Another monumental victory for motorcyclists can be found under Title I of the bill. Where section 1914 calls for the formation of an advisory council to advise the Federal Highway Administrator on how the small signature of motorcycles must be considered when designing roads, bridges and barriers.

The 1,681-page bill makes no mention of helmet requirements of any kind.

In the 108th Congress, transportation reauthorization bills passed in both houses of Congress by overwhelming margins, only to stall in conference over funding issues. This year, a similar deadlock caused difficulties in conference talks that began after the House passed its version of the bill in March and the Senate followed suit in May.

A breakthrough came earlier this month when conference leaders hammered out a framework for distributing funds to states while keeping the total cost of the bill down to a range the White House would accept.

Under the final bill, by fiscal 2008 every state would receive at least 92 cents for highway projects from each dollar the state contributes to the Highway Trust Fund. Under current law, states receive a minimum of 90.5 cents. The donor states, which contribute more in taxes than they get back in highway funds, originally demanded a minimum of 95 cents on the dollar.

Speaker of the House, J. Dennis Hastert (R-IL), who seldom votes and rarely addresses the House chamber, came to the House floor to express his desire to see work come to an end and to recognize the bi-partisan efforts that made this legislation possible. Hastert: “This bill is a result of people working together”

The Congress also passed the eleventh extension, funding current programs until August 14th. The extension is needed to give the White House time to review the sweeping measure before signing it into public law.

"Motorcyclists have been contributing to the federal trust fund that finances the highway bill as long as motorists have and until now, have been largely neglected." said Jeff Hennie MRF Vice President of Government Relations. "Motorcyclists have once again proved well organized grassroots activism works. This bill not only aids the efforts of the individual states but will ultimately save lives of motorcyclists across the country."


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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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