You have the attention of Congress. And your efforts are affecting federal legislation.
The AMA’s grassroots advocacy depends on your action. And, whenever we put out the call, you respond. The effectiveness of this approach is being noticed in Washington, D.C., where members of Congress and other organizations who lobby Congress are waking up to the impact a strong membership organization can have on legislation.
In Washington, many power brokers still think a big-name lobbying firm is the solution.
In the AMA office, we push the idea of our well-connected membership, which has proven to be the best way to influence elected officials from the city council to the statehouse and all the way to the U.S. Congress.
A well-connected membership is one that gets involved with local, state and federal officials and keeps the AMA informed of issues related to motorcycling.
This year is a great year to get involved particularly because it is an election year. We encourage you to contact your favorite candidate(s) and join his or her campaign. Campaigns need volunteers who will write letters to the editor, walk door to door, participate in phone banks, attend campaign events and, most important, vote and encourage others with like minds to join you at the polls.
If your candidate is currently in elected office, it’s time to introduce yourself as an AMA member. Look for announcements when the official will be visiting your area or planning an internet event, having a town meeting or introducing legislation that affects you. This information is usually on the website of the elected official. The AMA Government Relations Department will help you with the communication, but we need your help to monitor your policy makers.
One example of grassroots involvement is the AMA campaign to ensure safe fuels for motorcyclists.
While the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency continues to propose increases in the amount of ethanol blended into the nation’s fuel supply, AMA members have joined others in letting the EPA know we are unhappy with its actions.
In 2015, nearly 30,000 people added their signatures to the AMA comments to the EPA, outlining the risks to motorcycles associated with higher blends of ethanol, such as E15 fuel (15 percent ethanol by volume).
This year, more than 12,000 more signed onto the AMA comments protesting yet another proposed increase in Renewable Volume Obligations.
At the same time, on a more local and personal level, AMA members participated in two stakeholder meetings conducted by the Wayne National Forest leadership.
At those sessions, held in September 2015 and May 2016, AMA members represented the interests of responsible motorized recreation as forest personnel weigh the differing points of view of other users of the forest.
And, one of the best examples of effective grassroots action is the concerted effort a few years ago when the lead law threatened the right of parents to buy dirt bikes and ATVs for their children because the vehicles contained a certain amount of lead.
AMA members rallied in Washington, D.C., wrote letters to federal agencies and officials and met one-on-one with their congressional representatives.
The result was H.R. 2715, signed into law by President Barack Obama in August 2011. The law exempts kids’ OHVs from the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008, known as the lead law.
In each of these instances, AMA members responded to the call for action on important issues affecting motorcycles, motorcyclists and motorcycling.
The bottom line is this: The AMA will go to bat for its members, no matter who is in power. And to do that, we need your help.
We are part of a national organization with hundreds of thousands of eyes and ears throughout America helping us stay up-to-date on important issues, helping us react quickly to emerging situations and setting the AMA apart from many other organizations in your communities and in the nation’s capital.
Wayne Allard is AMA vice president of government relations
Grassroots activism can and does effect change, as AMA members proved in fighting the lead law that would have banned dirt bikes and ATVs for kids.
Photo by: Morten Aigeltinger