07NR03 - News From The Hill

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

#07NR03- News From Washington DC

The View from Capitol Hill

March 8, 2007

Last week was the annual AMA Welcome to Washington seminar, and Capitol Hill was feeling it after the week was over. The yearly seminar had just about thirty AMA members in attendance, many of whom were also MRF members. The three-day event aims to take political neophytes and transform them into savvy political motorcyclists’ rights advocates. Like most educational opportunities in life, you get out of it what you want. Those individuals who attend the seminar, pay attention and ask questions when needed emerge as budding lobbyists for all things motorcycle. The event, like the AMA, focuses on both on road issues and a large amount of off road and racing issues as well. After three days of exhaustive education, the attendees are turned loose on their members of Congress to lobby them on motorcycle issues. Congrats to the AMA for another event done well.

ABATE of MN was also in town (although not for the AMA event) the same week and they brought a posse. Almost twenty bikers walking the halls en masse was a welcome sight to this lonely lobbyist. I had the opportunity to tag along with the group to a good chunk of their meetings. The MN congressional delegation has a substantial amount of weight this Congress. For example, Congressman Jim Oberstar (D-MN) is the new Chairman of the House Transportation Committee. Oberstar does have a soft spot for some two-wheeled modes of transportation, mainly bicycles; the 73-year-old pledges to put over three thousand miles on his bicycle this summer touring the state, again. While we may not always line up on safety legislation with Mr. Oberstar, we can always count on him to advocate for share the road and awareness campaigns.

ABATE of Wisconsin and ABATE of New Mexico were also in Washington DC last week as well. This was a first for the ABATE from the Land of Enchantment and definitely not a first for the dairy state. C.J. August from New Mexico took some time off while here for a work commitment to lobby her Representative and Senators. The folks from Wisconsin brought some new faces and some familiar ones as well. MRF President Kirk “Hardtail” Willard and MRF SSMRO rep to the board, Dave Dwyer were both part of the crew from WI. I had the opportunity to participate with both groups while they successfully lobbied the Hill. Several other MRO’s had representatives in DC last week including but not limited to, ABATE of AK, IL and NY. Yours truly wasn’t able to tag along with those states but I rest assured knowing they all had productive and profitable meetings with their elected officials.

I can’t mention everyone that was out last week so thanks to everybody who spent hard earned money and precious time to venture to DC to advocate for motorcycling. If you haven’t been to DC to lobby for motorcycles you should be asking your self, why not?

Off to the Races
Scott McInnis, former member of Congress from Colorado and also a past MRF Champion for introducing the HIPAA loophole fix legislation, has tossed his hat into the ring for US Senate. McInnis recently announced that he will be running for the seat to be vacated by Senator Wayne Allard (R-CO) in 2008. McInnis, an attorney, is widely considered to be the frontrunner in the race to succeed the retiring Allard. More on this race and others important to the motorcycling community as they develop.

Noteworthy News
NHTSA is once again revising some its highway safety program guidelines and once again they are including motorcycles in the plan. The proposed revisions are not all bad and not all good either. Some of the plan embraces awareness campaigns and some of it suggests graduated licensing for youth and senior’s automobile drives. Read the proposals for yourself by looking up NHTSA Docket 27159. You can read the MRF comments here: http://dmses.dot.gov/docimages/p89/458103.doc or here http://dmses.dot.gov/docimages/pdf100/458103_web.pdf

Around the Country. Washington State: While the jury is still out on whether lane sharing is a good thing for motorcyclists or not, Washington State Senator Dan Swecker has gone on record supporting the controversial practice. In fact so much so, that he introduced a bill on February 12, 2007, to allow motorcycle operators to travel between lanes traveling in the same direction when traffic is moving less than half of the posted speed limit. Motorcyclist would be limited to speeds of 10 miles per hour above the average speed of traffic when traveling between lanes.

Ride free and frequently-
Jeff Hennie

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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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