8 Ball In The Wind

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Now Comes The Big Show

I am amazed that both bills we are running now have gotten a hearing.  The Lane Filtering Bill, SB5623 had one on Tuesday, and it went pretty good.  I hope to hear it is going to Executive Session in the Transportation Committee soon.  The main thing though is our Helmet Bill, SB5198 is scheduled for a hearing on Monday, Feb. 9th at 3:30.  That is the bill I have been trying to keep myself focussed on.   It is great that we have made enough progress over the last few years, that we are truly being taken seriously, and it ahs led to only the second hearing on the helmet issue in many many years.

This is the bill I want most of all to make it out of the Transportation Committee, and then out of the Rules Committee for a vote on the Senate floor.  This is the bill that was the reason I accepted the LAO position with ABATE.  To keep this fight going, and not just stop fighting.  You don't get anywhere doing that.  in fact, you end up losing ground.  I didn't want to lose ground and have to regain the credibility the motorcycle community has fought so long and hard to secure.

Getting a hearing on the lane filtering bill was great, and from the sounds of the support I keep hearing for it spreading, I am hoping for good things with that bill.  But it is, and always has been the helmet bill that is the focus of this fight.

I am planning on testifying at the hearing on Monday.  But I want to have my thoughts in order before I do.  To find one perspective, one point to drive home to the Committee.  With the Lane Filtering hearing there was a lot of redundancy in the testimony.  It helped to drive home the key points of the bill, but there were other opportunities that were missed.  That is why I want to have what I want to say laid out, and well rehearsed so it flows more easily. Over the next day or so, I am going to put my thoughts into a cohesive form.  The question I am trying to answer now is which aspect of the helmet issue do I want to push, and feel most comfortable drawing up the facts for.  Once I make that decision, the rest should flow much more easily into place in my mind.

Catch ya on the road sometime...

Sunday, February 1, 2015

They Surprised Me

As we went about pushing ABATE of Washington's bills in the legislature on Black Thursday on the 22nd of January, I was focused on the Helmet Law Amendment Bill.  Getting a hearing on the helmet bill was my goal, and it is what I was spending most of the week I spent at the Capitol pushing for.  But on Black Thursday I was surprised.  While waiting to go into a meeting with my Senator, I received a phone call saying that the President of the Senate was interested in being the Prime Sponsor of the Lane Filtering Bill.  He just wanted to see a copy of the language first.  I raced down from the 4th floor to the 1st floor to see if there was a copy in my briefcase.  There was, but I couldn't find it at the time...go figure.  So I made a quick trip down the hallway to the Legislative Information Office and had two copies of House Bill 1515 copied, then shot back up to the 3rd floor to deliver the language.  Well in the mean time, Senator Sheldon's Legislative Assistant downloaded the language of the bill and he sent it to the Code Reviser's Office to be turned into a bill.  While doing all this running around to get this language copied and delivered, I missed the mass ride in, and the group photo on the Capitol steps.  But I am OK with that.  Because I guess when the President of the Senate wants a bill to go ahead it goes on the express track.

Photo by Irish McKinney

A week and a half after Senator Sheldon sponsored the bill, it will have a hearing in the Senate Transportation Committee.  Two of the members of the committee are among the sponsors of the bill.  I wasn't expecting this bill to really do anything this session.  But with all the support it seems to be gaining in the motorcycle community, and even the press is mentioning it, this has become the bill I have to work to get passed now.  All the documents for the helmet bill are ready.  I wasn't ready for this bill to come up in committee so fast.  

So over the weekend I have put together a presentation package with information from recent studies in California put together with the help of the California Highway Patrol, that actually shows lane filtering using the guidelines in the bill is at least as safe if not safer than riding a motorcycle in general.  I used excerpts from the MAIDS study in Europe, and a 2010 report by the Oregon Dept. of Transportation in the report.  Finishing it off with information from a recent University of Washington study on the ill effects being stuck in traffic has on drivers, and its link to heart disease, and heart deformation.  

Lastly, added a condensed list of the bills over the past 15 years that the Washington State Patrol stated were "dangerous ideas".
This bill is one of them.  Each of the other bills on the list passed into law, and the death rate for motorcyclists hasn't spiraled out of control.  I think the final line or so puts it best.  "If the California Highway Patrol, who has decades of experience with lane filtering believes it to be a "safe and prudent" technique; then why wouldn't the Washington State Patrol look at the data before making their knee jerk comment that it is a "dangerous idea"?

My main focus is still trying to get the Helmet Law Amendment at least out of Committee, if not passed into law.  But for my first time as ABATE's Legislative Affairs Officer, I will take getting any bill out of Committee.  It would be more than what I was expecting, but much less than I desire.  I just have to keep the faith, and keep pushing.  As well as being thankful for all the support I am being shown in the motorcycling community.  Who knows, maybe they'll surprise me again, and we can get a couple of new laws passed here in Washington State.

Catch you on the road sometime...