Tuesday, February 7, 2017
Two Motorcycle Bills Voted Out Of Committee, But Only One Moves On.
During executive session of the Senate Transportation Committee yesterday, two of the bills that were given "do pass" votes, and forwarded to the Senate Rules Committee were SB5156, and SB5378. The helmet law amendment and the lane sharing pilot program bills. Those other eight bills were actually held until the very end of the session, while eight other bills were given pro forma votes. However when it came to the two motorcycle bills, things slowed down considerably.
Especially on SB5378, the lane sharing bill. Sen. Hobbs (a Democrat from the 44th Legislative District), was openly opposing the bill due to the fact that Sen, Sheldon (a Democrat from the 35th Legislative District) had offered an amendment that removed the restriction in the bill that would have forced motorcyclists only to be able to pass on the left side of a vehicle in the farthest left lane between traffic and the cable or jersey barriers. Even though during the committee hearing a week earlier motorcyclists had explained that the restriction endangered the lives of motorcyclists.
Sen. Liias (a Democrat from the 21st Legislative District) also stated his opposition to the bill. However his reasoning; while different from Sen. Hobbs was no more clear as to his logic. Sen. Liias stated that while he appreciated the respect and responsibility of the riders who testified in the hearing last week, he was opposing the bill because of those irresponsible riders who would not abide by the law if it was passed. In other words, he was opposing the bill because some people might violate it in an irresponsible manner. Does it really make sense to oppose a law, because people will violate it?
When the votes were held by voice on both bills, they passed, but that was contingent on receiving enough signatures from the committee members with a "do pass" endorsement. The helmet bill received four signatures in favor, four in opposition, and one without a recommendation either way. That left three Senators who didn't even sign on to the sheet either way. However, the lane sharing bill, with its amendment to allow lane sharing between lanes and not on the left side, did pass out of committee.
While the motorcyclists of Washington State can look at 5156 not passing out of committee as a defeat, there is still reason for hope. Rep. Kirby (a Democrat from the 26th Legislative District) prime sponsored a very similar helmet bill, that was referred to the committee that he is chair of. That bill, HB1804 has been scheduled for a hearing on Valentines Day morning at 8:00 AM. So the opportunity to be free to choose when and whether to wear a helmet is still a possibility. Keep following this issue, and I will continue to update the story as it unfolds.
Catch you on the road sometime...