8 Ball In The Wind

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

DOT Helmet Standard Is Flawed

I do not believe people should be forced to not wear motorcycle helmets.  However, I also do not believe motorcyclists should be forced into wearing a helmet that could also be a contributing factor to injury.  What I am saying is that I believe the basic individual American adult is intelligent enough to decide for themselves when and when and even whether to wear a motorcycle helmet.  Especially when a significant percentage of motorcycle helmets on US highways, constituting many thousands of helmets on the road today, do not even meet the minimum standards of the extremely outdated DOT helmet standard.

In American states with some form of motorcycle helmet requirement. that requirement tends to require motorcycle helmets to meet the US DOT standard.  This standard is one of the weakest in the world in terms of helmet safety and allows manufacturers to design helmets to pass the testing that they may (or may not as it is not required by the standard) before self-certifying that their product meets the standard for them to sell.  This self-certification is only one of the flaws of the DOT standard.  It allows manufacturers to build a helmet that meets a very minimal list of requirements, and then self-certify that the helmet complies with the standard.  Even if that helmet is no more than a hard-shelled yarmulke with a DOT emblem on it.  As long as that helmet has not been; randomly purchased and tested by the USDOT's independent labs, and then actually failed the testing protocols, that certification is valid by law.  So a manufacturer can sell thousands of helmets that would not meet the standard and it would be perfectly legal.  If by chance that model helmet was purchased and tested and failed these tests.  A recall may or may not be required.  Even this would result in only a small percentage of the affected motorcycle helmets to being returned due to recall.  Between 1980 and 2008, just over 1,500 motorcycle helmet models were tested by independent laboratories.  Of those, over 60% failed to meet the standards.  Each model failing represented tens of thousands of helmets sold.

The DOT standard was based on earlier 1971 ANSI research on head injuries in crashes.*  However, these weren't motorcycle crashes, but automobile crashes with unhelmeted occupants.  This is the second flaw in the DOT standard.  It was based on head injuries to unhelmeted automobile occupants, not motorcyclists.  Two completely different types of crashes with significantly different rates and types of injury involved.  Yet the NHTSA moved forward with inaccurate data to create this standard.  

The DOT standard allows 400g's at impact.  That is the equivalent of a pick-up truck on your head.  Even if only for a few milliseconds this stress can cause damage to soft tissue such as; blood vessels, ligaments, and muscle in the neck and shoulders, but NHTSA (who created the standard) does not even put any consideration of these effects into its research.  Other helmet standards, such as SNELL and ECE are recognized around the world, and use the much lower but still significant level of 290g for 2 milliseconds.  Even this level is still on the cusp of a skull fracture.  However, DOT is significantly higher, with a lower requirement for protection.  Does only half head forms with an accelerometer inside a helmet actually constitute a reasonable representation of a human head and neck?  Apparently, it does to DOT.

Flaw number three can be shown as the DOT's failure to even test "roll-off".  Or how much the helmet rolls around on the wearers head as the head moves from side-to-side.  DOT also does not test face shields on helmets for impact safety.  While other standards do DOT ignores the potential for debris to strike the motorcyclist in the face.  

Perhaps it can be said that the fourth major flaw in the DOT standard is that it is outdated.  The last major change to the standard took several years to complete, and it simply involved the labeling of the DOT emblem on the back of a helmet.  The DOT standard has "changed minimally since its introduction" in the words of a study by the Head Protection Research Laboratory in 2001.  Since that time the only change has been the previously mentioned labeling change.

However, possibly the worse flaw is the way that manufacturers are able to design strength into specific areas of their helmets in order to pass the minimal DOT standard while leaving other areas they know are not in the testing standard to be less well protected.  The manufacturers intent overall is not the safety of the rider, but being able to sell their product and receive a profit.  Thus helmets can be designed to pass any DOT testing they may receive, but still not provide adequate safety to the motorcyclists wearing them in a crash.  Strength in real life is measured at the weakest point.  A real-world motorcycle crash is very good at finding those weak points and exploiting them.

Of the impact speeds that a DOT helmet is supposed to attenuate, the highest is on average, 13.4 mph.  This incredible speed is attained by dropping the helmet in a free fall from 72 inches (6 feet).  Or, mechanically moving the helmet at an equivalent speed.  The lesser impact is attained by dropping a helmet from 54 inches.  That's four and a half feet.  This impact, by the way, destroys the helmets ability to effectively protect the motorcyclist during a crash.  It is for this reason that manufacturers place in the helmets users booklet an instruction to replace the helmet if it experiences an impact, even if there is no visible damage.  How many helmets on the road today have fallen off a shelf, or motorcycle accidentally?  While the manufacturer has said this may destroy the helmets ability to protect the rider, rarely are helmets returned or replaced for such an impact.  So this leaves a significant number of questionable helmets on the heads of motorcyclists.  Above and beyond the possibly hundreds of thousands of helmets self-certified by manufacturers that could not actually pass scrutiny if tested.

These flaws would seem to show that the DOT standard is virtually useless.  The standard has been considered obsolete by many in the motorcycle safety research field for decades.  Manufacturers are able to design helmets to withstand impacts on the places that the standard states are to be impacted.  Manufacturers are not even required to test their helmets before self-certifying that they meet the standard.  The highest impact velocities are so low, they can be nearly attained simply by falling off a motorcycles seat, or table.  Yet, every year, millions of motorcyclists are forced to wear helmets, and the vast majority wear the minimum they have to wear, a DOT helmet.  The DOT standard truly brings into question whether mandates and universal helmet laws are truly about safety or more about providing law enforcement with a pretext for possible traffic stops.  If being mandated to wear a DOT helmet is truly about motorcycle safety, then why have automobile fatalities been going down for many years, while motorcycle fatalities have remained relatively unchanged for over a decade?

I urge you to think about these many flaws in the DOT standard, and consider the question; do we really need to mandate that motorcyclists must wear helmets that meet such a flawed standard, or might they actually be able to choose for themselves if and when they would wear a helmet?

Catch you on the road sometime...

* ANSI standard Z90.1

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Lane Splitting Survey Questions

This will be a bit of a departure from my normal blog posts.    These survey questions are from the 2012 California Lane Share Study by Emald & Wasserman Research Consultants LLC for the California Office of Traffic Safety and the University of California Berkeley's Safe Transportation Research and Education Center.  Perhaps the answer to these questions can be used to communicate to Washington State's lawmakers the benefits of lane sharing.

1.  What best describes how you use your motorcycle most of the time? You use it for:
    A. Pleasure riding on weekends
    B. Both commuting to work and pleasure riding on weekends
    C. Commuting to work
    D. Long‐distance touring rides
    E. Sport
    F.  Bar-hopping
    G. Other

2.  How many miles on average do you ride per day?

3.  Do you lane split on your motorcycle when riding on freeways?

4.  How frequently do you lane split on freeways?
    A. Always
    B. Often
    C. Sometimes
    D. Rarely 

5.  Have you ever hit a vehicle or has a vehicle hit you while you were lane splitting on a freeway?

6.  Did you ever nearly hit a vehicle?

7.  Would you say you lane split only
     A. Traffic is at a standstill
     B. Traffic is stop‐and‐go
     C. Traffic is moving less than 20 MPH
     D. Traffic is moving less than 30 MPH
     E. Traffic is moving less than 40 MPH
     F. Traffic is moving less than 50 MPH
     G. Traffic is moving less than 60 MPH
     H. Traffic is moving less than 70 MPH
      I. Other 
      J. At all times

8.  Do you lane split on your motorcycle when riding on multiple lane roads other than freeways?

9.  How much faster than the rest of the traffic do you go when lane splitting?
      A. About 5MPH faster than other traffic
      B. About 10MPH faster than other traffic
      C. About 15MPH faster than other traffic
      D. About 20MPH faster than other traffic
      E. About 30MPH faster than other traffic
      F. About 40MPH faster than other traffic
     G. About 50MPH faster than other traffic
     H. Other

Let me know your answers in the comments below.  The answers can be used to help in the fight to bring lane splitting to Washington State.

Catch you on the road sometime...

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Reducing Motorcycle Fatalities In Washington State

Cover of 2016 Motorcycle Safety Program Report
One of the often repeated statements heard from officials involved in motorcycle safety within the Washington state government is that; while all other motor vehicle fatality rates have declined, the rate for motorcycle fatalities has remained virtually unchanged for over a decade.  The Washington State Department of Licensing's Motorcycle Safety Program's 2016 report actually states that there were "essentially no changes in fatalities in 12 years".  It would seem obvious that if despite the best efforts of the DOL to reduce the number of motorcycle fatalities on Washington State's highways the fatality rate is unchanged in over a decade, perhaps it is time to look more closely at what is really happening to cause the fatalities.  

Perhaps one of the reasons that the number of fatalities has seemed so static is that the number of riders has increased significantly, while the number of deaths per 100,000 registered motorcycles has dropped by nearly one-third over the last decade.  In 2005, according to the MSP's 2016 report, the number of motorcycle fatalities per 100,000 registered motorcycles was 45.3, by 2015 that number had dropped to 30.1.  This still leaves the unanswered question as to why so many motorcyclists are dying on Washington's roadways every year.

While studying the Motorcycle Safety Program's report, it becomes obvious that there is a departmental mindset at work.  The report breaks down the number of fatalities and traffic violations between endorsed and unendorsed riders.  It also compares trained and untrained riders.  However nowhere in the report does it discuss the types of collisions involved in the fatal crashes.  It does show that unendorsed and untrained riders are overrepresented in the number of fatalities.  This would seem to point towards a possible avenue of reduction of the fatalities by increasing the number of endorsed riders.  

However, that might only reduce the fatality rate statistically.  Simply reducing the number of unendorsed riders, while increasing the number of endorsed fatalities. Wouldn't it be more effective to look at what types of crashes caused these fatalities, and what caused the fatal injury?  Not in a broad and vague category such as; lane departure and struck a solid object.  That is a very vague description of the end result, not the cause of the crash.  What caused the loss of control that resulted in the crash?  Usually, it is more than one single factor, but if a rider loses control and crashes without being hit by someone else, the State considers that the riders fault.

An example could easily be that you are riding, perhaps 5 mph or so over the speed limit, into a flat right-hand turn.  As you lean into the turn you drift closer to the center line, and your front wheel hits something in the roadway, let's say the centerline rumble strip.  The sudden movement of the front wheel created by riding over the rumble strip while leaning the bike causes a "low-side" crash and you slide across the road, onto the shoulder, and into a guardrail post.  Sadly, you die from your injuries.  In the State's report, you experienced a fatal lane departure to the outside of the curve and struck a solid object.  Since you were traveling at 5 mph above the speed limit you are dropped into the classification of "speeding" as one of the causal factors.  Since no other vehicles were involved it is the riders fault for the crash.  The same goes if you are on the outside of a lane and drift onto the shoulder and crash into the guardrail.

This is how the State of Washington's Motorcycle Safety Program views fatal motorcycle crashes.  The fact that yes, you had drifted to the centerline is a technical failure on your part is what they look at.  The fact that the rapid steering inputs created by riding over the centerline rumble strip while already in a lean may have contributed to the crash is apparently not even considered.  As is the fact that had you not struck that guardrail post your injuries may well have been quite survivable don't even come into the minds of most of those compiling the data.  Why doesn't that sort of information even enter their minds?  Because many in the Motorcycle Safety Program are not motorcyclists and have no concept of the effect of such things as roadway surfaces can affect traction and control of a motorcycle.  

They seem to have no knowledge of the effects of grooved pavement, rumble strips, on the safe handling of a motorcycle.  Nor do they consider guardrails, cable barriers, etc. as anything but beneficial safety features.  Which they are to other motor vehicles.  However to a motorcyclist experiencing the centrifugal effects of crashing and sliding across the roadway, these same "safety features" can be fatal.  There have been studies done for over 30 years that show these dangers, and even show existing ways to mitigate the dangers.  Yet; even though they bemoan the "flat" level of motorcycle fatalities over the last decade, actually mitigating the additional risks these infrastructure "safety features" pose to motorcyclists is at a low priority.  If it is understood at all.  

The WSDOT has studied "Through, Over or Under Guardrail Penetration".  However, in the study, there is again the typical absence of any mention of motorcycles.  The effect differential between larger motor vehicle drivers and motorcycle riders may be quite enlightening.  Instead of viewing all fatalities in relation to guardrail height, type of vehicle involved may prove to be valuable to decision makers and legislators.

Educating motorcyclists how to ride endorsed, safely, and with confidence is a very good thing, and should be encouraged strongly.  Truly raising awareness of the other users of public roadways about motorcycles and their benefits and requirements is another excellent step to likely reducing motorcycle fatalities.  However, the State also could benefit by a reduction in real numbers of motorcycle fatalities if they actually took a serious look at the infrastructure on our roadways, the possible mitigation required to increase the safe travel of all the users of our roadways, including motorcycles, not just heavier motor vehicles.  The data is not difficult to find, and one of Washington's institutions of higher learning could easily verify the data by performing a study of their own.  

I am curious to see if they even care enough about the owners of over a quarter million motorcycles registered in Washington state.  Or just bury their head in the sand, and continue to argue that the data doesn't exist.  Well-intentioned efforts that do little to actually reduce the number of motorcyclists dying on Washington's roadways have not lowered the death rate.  Actually taking steps to mitigate at least the most egregious areas of infrastructure, could affect a noticeable and significant decrease in the number of lives lost in motorcycle accidents on Washington State's roadways.  If the State is truly serious about moving toward reaching the Governor's goal of "Target Zero" by 2030, all options should be seriously examined and mitigation put into action.

Catch you on the road sometime...

Monday, May 14, 2018

Infrastructure Dangerous To Motorcycles Needs To Be Studied For Mitigation

European, Australian and American studies have demonstrated the dangers of some of the common roadside safety barriers to motorcyclists involved in crashes.  Even Texas A&M University has studied the dangers that roadside safety features present to motorcyclists.  As early as 1982, Dr. J.V. Ouellet of the University of Southern California studied and reported the dangers of certain highway safety features that were meant to provide protection to automobiles in crashes, but presented additional dangers to motorcyclists.  The 2008 report by the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP), an arm of the Transportation Research Board of the National Academies stated; "Historically, roadside safety barriers have been installed to protect errant motor vehicles from encroaching on fixed objects located beyond the barrier. In most cases, the installation of safety barriers has only taken into consideration the needs and concerns of passenger cars, trucks, and other motor vehicles, while the needs of motorcyclists are typically overlooked."  

FHWA requires use of NCHRP Report 350 testing protocols for
all roadside safety hardware. As currently established, there are no protocols covering the performance of roadside barriers based on collisions with motorcycles.  Such testing protocols have remained in limbo for over two decades, with little real effort to research and create baseline protocols covering the performance of roadside barriers.  Currently, when the subject has been brought to the attention of WSDOT managers and others in meetings, it was dismissed with little consideration or concern.  Why is that the case?  Is it because there is no current priority to research the effects of impacts with these features by motorcyclists?  With no impetus to perform the research, there is no concern about examining existing data.  

Would it not be prudent to conduct a study here in Washington State on the effects of impacts with these various types of boundaries by motorcyclists?  This would put Washington State squarely at the forefront of highway safety in this field.  A leader in an effort to actually find ways to move toward reaching Target Zero.  Would it not be better for the WSDOT or one of Washington's universities to conduct such research in order to help save lives on our roadways?

1. Motorcycle Impacts Into Roadside Barriers - Real-World Accident Studies, Crash Tests and Simulations Carried out in Germany and Australia by Berg, Rucker, Gartner, Koenig of the  DEKRA Automobil GmbH Germany and Grzebieta and Zou of Monash University, Australia.  Paper Number 05-0095

2. Motorcycle Crash Testing  Chiara S. Dobrovolny, Ph.D., Roadside Safety & Physical Security Division, Texas A&M Transportation Institute, 2016

3. Environmental Hazards in Motorcycle Accidents, Dr. J.V. Ouellet, Traffic Safety Center
University of Southern California. 1982

4. NCHRP Report 500, Transportation Reseach Board, National Academies, 2008

Target Zero: Motorcycles Are Not Automobiles

It may be that there are still several members of the Washington State Legislature, Washington State DOT, and the Dept. of Licensing, who do not understand that motorcycles are significantly different from automobiles.  For unknown reasons all three of these groups; the Legislature, WSDOT, and the DOL have personnel in key positions who cannot grasp that motorcycles and automobiles are fundamentally different.  

Quite often we hear the statistic that motorcycles make-up only four percent of the registered vehicles in Washington state, yet account for fifteen percent of fatalities on the roadways.  This inability to understand why motorcyclists are over-represented in highway fatalities need only take a look at the above photo to comprehend if one should care to actually look and see for themselves.  

Motorcycles don't have 'crumple zones' or a metal passenger safety enclosure as automobiles do.  Only a very small percentage of motorcycles have airbags and those that do operate in a different manner and for a slightly different purpose than do those in automobiles.  Where automobiles may have approximately 360 square inches of surface contact with the roadway, most motorcycles tend to have less than 20 square inches of surface in contact with the pavement.  Motorcycles are also much more susceptible to loss of traction due to a road surface or debris issue that may have passed completely unnoticed by an automobile.

Infrastructure features that are meant to have been a safety feature for automobiles can be a danger to motorcyclists.  Some features can have a detrimental effect on the handling of a motorcycle, and loss of handling or traction is a contributing factor in many single-vehicle accidents.  Even something as seemingly insignificant as the painted lines on the road can contribute to significant loss of traction for a motorcycle with dangerous results.  Whereas an automobile driver would not even necessarily notice that they had crossed the line.  

In 2011 Washington State DOT published a study entitled "Performance Analysis of Centerline Rumble Strips in Washington State".  Within this report, the researchers show that there was a 76% increase in serious and fatal motorcycle crashes after installation of the Centerline Rumble Strips (CLRS); but because none of those accidents were related to the vehicle operator being "asleep, fatigued, or distracted" the researchers "exempted" all motorcycle data from the study because it was "skewing" the CLRS analysis data.  The study also showed that a vast majority of the crashes were "lane departures to the outside of the curve".  

If you are at all familiar with how motorcycles function, you should understand that the motorcycle is not steered effectively by turning the handlebars in the direction you wish to turn.  Instead, an operator 'counter-steers' by pushing the handlebar forward on the side of the bike they wish to turn (pushing forward on the right handlebar turns the front wheel to the left, but creates a right-leaning turn in the motorcycle at speeds above about 5 mph) and quickly or violently doing so can easily cause loss of control of the motorcycle.  In a flat curve, from the inside of the curve, this loss of control has a significantly higher risk of the motorcycle becoming involved in a 'low-side' crash and then experience "lane departures to the outside of the curve".  Those rapid or violent inputs to the steering are provided by the CLRS's themselves when a  motorcyclist strays just a little too close to the centerline.  In other words; the Centerline Rumble strips that are a safety feature to help reduce accidents caused by sleeping, fatigued or distracted drivers present a significant risk of a serious or fatal crash to a motorcyclist. 

Even many common safety barriers may well protect automobile operators and passengers from serious or fatal injury while creating dangerous hazards to motorcyclists.  The ubiquitous "W Beam" guardrail, 'jersey barrier' and cable barrier are just some of the safety barriers that fall into this category.  These risks can be mitigated by simple steps in most cases.  But WSDOT has repeatedly turned a deaf ear to any attempt to discuss such mitigation possibilities.  This seems to cast a cloud of doubt over WSDOT's commitment to attaining Target Zero.

Until the WSDOT, the DOL, and the Washington State Legislature realize that motorcycles and automobiles have very different requirements for safely traveling on our roadways we will continue to have reductions in automobile traffic fatalities, but little or no reduction in motorcycle fatalities.  Without understanding that what can be a safety benefit for one mode of transportation can seriously increase the hazard of a fatal crash to another mode of transportation, Washington State goal of zero fatalities or serious injuries by 2030 will remain an unattainable dream.

In WSDOT's 2016 reports on the safety performance on urban, suburban arterials, and rural two-lane highways, bicyclists and pedestrians were each mentioned several dozen times.  Motorcyclists were never mentioned once in over 750 pages of the two combined reports.  Until the Legislature, WSDOT and DOL actually open themselves up to listening to the stakeholders involved in the various modes of transportation, not just automobile operators, bicyclists and pedestrians, little improvement is likely to occur.  Without understanding a problem there can be no solution attained.

Catch you on the road sometime...


Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Hatred and Political Hypocrisy

David Duke                                       Louis Farakhan

The majority of us all agree that racial, gender. or religious hatred is wrong, am I right?  The majority of us all agree that bullying and publicly shaming a person who does not share your views is also wrong, am I right?  Then how is it that so many people on both sides of the political spectrum are hypocritical enough to denounce someone on the other side while overlooking the hatred espoused by those on their own political side of the spectrum?  Politicians who attack the openly Anti-Semitic view of those such as Louis Farakhan, had better not associate with or downplay the equally vocal Anti-Semitic actions of those such as David Duke.  

We have seen it again and again over the past decade or so especially.  Say or write the "wrong" thing and you may well become the victim of political bullying and brow-beating by those who openly condemn bullying and publicly shaming a person.  Yet when someone on their side of the political spectrum spouts racist, gender, or religious hatred it is either ignored or downplayed.  That is hypocritical.

Whether they are; a member of the political Left in the US who attacks a politician from the other side as "racist" because that person doesn't agree with them, all while having been openly photographed with Louis Farakhan, Al Sharpton, or some other person pushing a racist, religious, or gender agenda of inequality, or a member of the Right who does the same yet does not attack White Supremacists or Anti-Semitics in their own party are hypocrites.

When it is politically correct to say "Black Lives Matter" but racist to say "All Lives Matter", something is wrong.  And yet as Americans, we have seemingly lost our balls in this regard.  No longer do Americans seem to have the courage to stand-up for what is right and join together against the hatred from both sides.  What is good for the goose, is good for the gander.   We have begun to become a country that is so polarized we barely even listen to the other side, and ignore the actions of those on their own political side whose behavior is as repugnant to American ideals as the very person they have just publicly accused of racism, sexism, or of being a religious bigot.  All while proudly and loudly proclaiming they are holding American ideals high.  

Whether you call it; deceit, duplicity, or dissimulation, it is all hypocrisy.  Right or Left, it doesn't matter, hate speech is hate speech.  Saying; "The Jews don't like Farakhan, so they call me Hitler.  Well, that's a good name.  Hitler was a very great man" is no different than saying; "The Jews are trying to destroy all other cultures...as a survival mechanism...the only Nazi country in the world is Israel".  They are both as bad and both of the men who said those things stand seemingly on the polar opposites of the political spectrum.  Both are full of hate, and both should be excised from the support of politicians because of their openly hateful actions and words.  

No race is "better" than another, no religion is "better" than another, and no gender is "better" than another.  Until we as a Nation remember that again. Or, as a society we quit trying to micromanage the beliefs of its members while neglecting the broader needs of a healthy Nation, we will be lead down the garden path.  

One last thing to think about; it has been shown, to those who care to see, that by hypocritically attacking a political opponent for something while neglecting to do the same for a political ally, you have become the protector of that behavior.  By being silent about the behavior, you are condoning it.

Much like in the recent months Hollywood has been in an uproar about the sexual harassment of actors by men in power.  While more and more women and men begin to step forward and speak of how long they were aware of this behavior, none of them spoke out.  That is until it became politically correct to do so.  Up until then, they admit they "knew" but kept quiet.  By their silence, they consented to allow it to continue.  With all the "hashtag"s in Hollywood regarding this issue, there was a lot of silent consent for many years.

As John Kaas said in his column today in the Chicago Tribune; "What we are witnessing is the Balkanizing of the United States."  Allowing hate and hypocrisy to divide us and weaken us all.  We need to put this shit aside and stand united together as Americans.  Equal and unhyphenated.  Being united doesn't mean we agree on everything, but that we stand together as equals.  Regardless of race, creed, or gender.  Perhaps then we can be the Nation that Dr. Martin Luther King saw in his "Dream".  Perhaps then we will achieve the true American Dream, and be the Nation that we all deserve to live and die in.

Think about it.

Catch you on the road sometime...

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Historic Vote Protest Ignored By Media

For what is believed to be the first time in the modern history of the State of Washington, and entire Caucus refused to even vote on a bill in protest.  After nearly two hours of impassioned debate on the bill SB6199, the Republican Caucus stood firmly together and in protest refused to vote in what was already a foregone conclusion of a defeat that would have made passage of SB6199 seem normal and not at all irregular or out of the ordinary.  The bill passed out of the House due to every Democrat voting yes.  Yet the story of the House Republicans refusing to even vote; something of historic significance, was completely ignored by the media here in Washington State.

During the debate, legislators who mentioned this were gavelled down by the Speaker, and not allowed to continue their comments.  As can be seen by following this URL to the TVW broadcast archive of the floor debate. https://www.tvw.org/watch/?eventID=2018031006  After a series of amendments by the Republicans were shouted down by voice vote in the House Chamber (beginning at the 14:00 point of the TVW video), it was soon obvious the Democrats were not going to allow anything to block the passing of this bill.  

Why was this bill so extraordinary that it resulted in such an unprecedented action by the Republican Caucus?  Several things in the bill seem rather odd.  Such as giving DSHS to "adopt any rules as it deems necessary to implement the provisions of this act."  Giving DSHS carte blanche to "adopt any rules" that it deems necessary would seem to give DSHS broad power to act independently of the legislature.  It would also set up a "directed employer program".  This program would allow DSHS to contract with an outside third-party entity to act as case managers for the independent providers.  This would be a one-time selection, and then this third-party entity would become the permanent case managing body for the independent providers in Washington.  That body would be a unionized organization requiring its employees, the independent providers, to pay union dues or fees equal to those union dues.  It was strongly held that the SEIU, which is a powerfully influential contributor to the Democratic Party, would be that union.  

The most egregious part of this bill is buried deep within it and would require the Individual Providers (caregivers) to pay union dues or fees equal to those union dues.  That amounts to over $900 per year.  Or roughly one and a half months pay for people, mainly family members caring for relatives, going to union dues with no ability to opt out.  But being forced to pay union dues or fees equal to those union dues.  This bill effectively forces unionization of people caring for their family members or friends.  With little benefit to them for the amount of money they would be having withheld from them.

As a result, the Republicans were left at the end of the debate with little option left except to protest the inevitable passing of this bill by boycotting the vote.  It is believed to be the first time in modern state history that an entire caucus stood together and did not vote on a bill.  Yet the only sort of news report on this was TVW's own Legislative Review program, which showed highly edited bits of the debate. As can be seen by at this URL:  https://www.tvw.org/watch/?eventID=2018031001 

It seems strange that the media can widely cover the legislatures gun control measures, or the failure of the Carbon Tax, or even the legislature's actions on Atlantic Salmon.  Yet not even a whisper about the passionate debate and political protest against forced unionization and an entire caucus boycotting a vote against a bill that would cost the state tens of millions of dollars annually in perpetuity.  With the majority caucus ignoring "hundreds" of emails and letters from individual independent providers opposing the bill, and only addressing "form letters" in support it brings to mind a question about the true intent of this bill.  One that brought the gavel quickly down on several legislators who attempted to ask the question, or made the remark; was this some form of payback to the SEIU for its support in Democrat campaigns?  A question that while best left to the media, appears to be one they are unwilling to ask.

Catch you on the road sometime...