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12/01/2016
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RIDING FREE FROM DC: Your Weekly Biker Bulletin from Inside the Beltway
Motorcycle Riders Foundation

Your Motorcycle Riders Foundation team in Washington, D.C. is pleased to provide our members with the latest information and updates on issues that impact the freedom and safety of American street motorcyclists. Count on your MRF to keep you informed about a range of matters that are critical to the advancement of motorcycling and its associated lifestyle. Published weekly when the U.S. Congress is in session.

 

NEWS FROM THE HILL

 

The September Sprint is officially upon us. This week, legislators returned to Washington after a long absence. Between the political conventions, district work and August recess, this was the first week back since mid-July. There is one pressing “must do” item; pass a bill to keep the government running past September 30. And like most things in Washington, it won’t be an easy task. Lawmakers are divided on whether to pass a “stop gap” funding bill that will fund the government and agencies until just after the November election, or punt the fight into 2017 when a new Congress convenes post-election. For Republicans, the goal is to preempt a 'lame duck' session after the election to block any last minute deal making before President Obama leaves office. There is already talk of a possible government shutdown if they can’t come to a resolution on the funding bill.

 

In motorcycle news, congressional outreach in August proved successful for House Resolution 831 which addresses the issue of motorcycle profiling. The measure has several additional co-sponsors and more are lined up to pledge their support in the coming days. Look for a legislative update email from me with more information.

 

EXECUTIVE & REGULATORY UPDATES

 

The Department of Transportation was expected to release industry guidelines for self-driving vehicles by the end of the summer. Though this has not yet been released, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx has said he was committing to publish a notice in the Federal Register this month about an advisory committee on the issue of autonomous vehicles. Presumably, stakeholders and other members of the public could nominate themselves to sit on the advisory committee. The notice is also likely to garner public comment about the lack of federal regulations concerning driverless vehicles. One of the main objectives of the MRF is to ensure that motorcycles are given serious consideration when designing guidelines for autonomous vehicles given their smaller size and profile. Once the guidelines are published, expect a notice from your MRF as it considers filing its own official comments in order to ensure bikers are represented in discussions.

 

STATE SNAPSHOT - INDIANA

 

A sleepy summer was not in the cards for the Hoosier State this year! The madness kicked into high gear in July when the current governor of the State, Mike Pence was officially named as Donald Trump’s running mate for the Republican ticket. Motorcyclists in the state put politics aside on July 29th and participated in the yearly “Ride with the Governor” event. The ride went smoothly! Even with the additional presence of secret service for the first time! No word yet on whether a “Ride with the Vice-President” is in the works for next year should Donald Trump pull off a controversial Presidential win.

 

Looking towards the future, riders in the State quickly shifted gears considering implications for the next potential Governor given Pence’s new role. Luckily, both the Republican and Democratic contenders poised to take over as Governor come January are motorcycle friendly! Indiana continues to be well positioned when it comes to politics!

 

Legislatively, though the State is out of session, riders in the state are keeping their ear to the ground about a possible helmet law for off-highway vehicles for riders under the age of 18. Though details are still being worked out, if the bill is moved in the 2017 legislative session, ABATE of Indiana does not intend to oppose it as it only targets minors under 18 and mirrors the current street law in the State.  

 

Another focus for Indiana has been challenges with rider education. This important area of new ridership continues to be a critical component that ABATE and other riders in the State consider ways to improve and advance rider education.

 

ELECTION NEWS – Senate Battleground States

 

The Democrats are in good spirits as they believe their chances of taking back the Senate keep getting better and better. States to watch with tough races include Indiana, Wisconsin and Illinois. In Indiana, retiring Senator Coates has opened the door for a fight between current House lawmaker Todd Young and former Senator Evan Bayh. In Wisconsin, Republican Senator Johnson is at the top of the list of seats likely to flip blue. And in Illinois Incumbent Mark Kirk (R) is seeking re-election to his second term but will have a tough battle against Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth.  New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Nevada, North Carolina and Ohio are also all considered battleground states. On the plus side for Republicans, Sen. Marco Rubio's last minute decision to run again in Florida may help to keep that state partially red.

 

MRF NEWS & ANNOUCEMENTS

 

Out with the old, and in with the new! Some of you may have noticed that this Bulletin has a new format we are trying out. In an effort to cover all bases, we’re going to start including sections related to news on Capitol Hill, what the latest and greatest is with regard to the Agencies and the Administration and we will also be featuring a new state every week with a rundown of what’s been going on. With any luck, this will help you feel more connected to our friends across the U.S. and let you know what they are working on in case there is ever a need to collaborate, share information or just bounce ideas off one another. You’ll also notice that I am adding a special section on election news. With the election two months away, I’ll bring you the inside scoop as to what folks are saying in Washington. If you want your state featured, send me a note at megan@mrf.org

 

Also, a quick plug for Meeting of the Minds. If you are reading this, and you haven’t signed up yet – get thee to a computer! You can still register online or by calling the office directly at 202-546-0983. You are getting down to the wire but it’s not too late. Take the future of the MRF and its legislative and regulatory advocacy goals into YOUR hands by showing up and participating at MOTM. I hope to see you there!

Your Friend in Washington,

 

Megan Ekstrom

Vice-President of Government Affairs & Public Relations

The Motorcycle Riders Foundation

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