AMA News & Notes is a monthly publication compiled and edited by the American Motorcyclist Association Government Relations Department. Designed to inform motorcyclists of rights-related issues and events in the United States and around the world.
National and Regional News
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has withdrawn its plan to regulate the emissions from motor vehicles, including motorcycles, built or used exclusively for racing. The EPA’s change of plans resulted from intense pressure brought by the American Motorcyclist Association, the Specialty Equipment Market Association and other organizations and racing sanctioning bodies. Issued in July 2015, the final Phase 2 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Standards and Fuel Efficiency Standards for Medium- and Heavy-Duty Engines and Vehicles contained what the EPA described as “clarifying language” that would have placed new restrictions on competition-only vehicles. The AMA joined SEMA and other groups to oppose this proposed new restriction and to support a bill in Congress to prevent EPA regulatory intrusion into motorsports. Five members of Congress introduced a bi-partisan bill, the Recognizing the Protection of Motorsports Act of 2016 (H.R. 4715), that would prevent the regulation of street bikes and other motor vehicles converted into competition-only racers. The AMA included language in the RPM Act that specifically exempts competition motorcycles from EPA regulation. More than 3,000 AMA Action Alert subscribers sent more than 10,000 messages to their representatives and senators, urging them to support the RPM Act. Despite the EPA’s withdrawal of its plan to regulate the emission of competition-only motor vehicles, the AMA and SEMA believe the RPM Act remains an important piece of legislation because it would prevent the EPA from ever initiating action to regulate emissions produced by race-only vehicles.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – An independent study of the economic impact of outdoor recreation was announced by U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell. She said that, “Hunting, boating, hiking, OHVing, wildlife viewing, and other outdoor activities are so closely tied to the health and accessibility of our public lands, yet this sector has, for too long, been overlooked and undervalued.” The study, in conjunction with the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis, will examine the economic impact of “everything from buying gear, to hiring a guide, to renting hotel rooms in gateway communities,” Jewell said. “This project is the start of a multi-year effort to quantify these contributions in a comprehensive and impartial way.”
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The proposed 2017 volumes under the Renewable Fuel Standard were submitted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to the White House Office of Management and Budget for review. The RFS proposal includes 2017 renewable volume obligations for renewable fuel, advanced and cellulosic biofuels and 2018 biodiesel. Following OMB review, the proposal is published in the Federal Register and is open for public comment. The EPA’s deadline for issuing a final rule is Nov. 30.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Bureau of Land Management has extended the comment period for its proposed planning rule, called Planning 2.0. In response to requests from the public, the BLM extended the comment period for 30 days to May 25. Planning 2.0 involves what the BLM refers to as “landscape-scale planning,” which examines issues across government-defined boundaries such as county lines and state borders. The proposed changes also are intended to allow earlier collaboration with local and state governments, tribes, partner agencies, stakeholders and the public. Information about Planning 2.0 is available from the BLM here and here. Comment may be mailed to Director, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Department of the Interior, 1849 C St., N.W., Room 2134LM, Washington, D.C., 20240, Attention: 1004-AE39. Comments may be made online through the federal portal here. All materials for BLM's Proposed Planning Rule outreach activities are also available on BLM's website at www.blm.gov/plan2.
DENVER – A bill establishing an E15 fuel income tax credit for retailers died in the state Senate Finance Committee when members voted 5-0 to postpone consideration indefinitely. The AMA and the Colorado Off Highway Vehicle Coalition opposed the bill, because it would encourage greater availability of E15, which contains 15 percent ethanol by volume. Motorcycles are not certified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to operate on fuel blends with more than 10 percent ethanol content; its use is illegal and may damage engines and fuel systems, as well as void manufacturers’ warranties.
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – A proposal to end a 20 percent sales tax break for fuel containing 10 percent ethanol (E10) and establish a 10 percent break for fuel with 15 percent ethanol (E15) was heard in April by a state Senate committee. State agricultural groups are seeking the change to help the state qualify for $12 million in federal grants to offset the cost of storage tanks, pumps, fuel lines and pumps to increase the sale of E15. The 20 percent sales tax break for E10 is scheduled to expire in 2018. As noted above, it is illegal to use ethanol blends higher than E10 in motorcycles, as well as boat motors and other small engines. Opponents of the proposed change – including the AMA and ABATE of Illinois – argued that subsidizing E15 sales could limit the availability of safe fuels like E10 or even force E0 (fuel with no ethanol) out of the marketplace.
BATON ROUGE, La. – A bill to repeal the state’s mandatory motorcycle helmet law failed in the House. To pass the House, the bill needed 53 affirmative votes, but received just 49. Opponents of the bill argued that it would result in more deaths and create liability problems for motorists involved in crashes with motorcyclists. Under current law, all riders and passengers must wear a helmet. The bill would have allowed those 21 or older to choose whether to wear a helmet while riding.
AUGUSTA, Maine – Residents seeking a motorcycle endorsement on their driver’s licenses must now complete the Basic RiderCourse, which includes time on a riding range. A new law signed by Gov. Paul LePage replaces the previous requirement that riders take the Maine Motorcycle Safety Education Course, which was eight hours of classroom-only training. Completing the MMSEC course allowed applicants to receive a permit and later take a road test to receive a motorcycle endorsement. Participants who complete the MMSEC by May 15 will be grandfathered and will be eligible to complete a road test to receive endorsement.
BALTIMORE – City Councilman Pete Welch led a 20-person group on a tour of the facilities operated by the Happy Ramblers Motorcycle Club in Hanover, Pa., and the Candytown Motorcycle Club in Elizabethtown, Pa., to gather information for their effort to create an off-highway-vehicle park in the city. Welch hopes to establish a world class “wheels park” that will provide a place for OHV riders, bicyclists and others to enjoy their pastimes safely. The initiative gathered momentum during the summer of 2015 as a way to curb stunts and other illegal riding on the city’s streets and in its parks. Community organizations, government officials, riders, AMA District 7 representatives and the AMA are participating in the study.
SALEM, Ore. – AMA members are encouraged to attend the Hood-Willamette Resource Advisory Committee meeting on May 4 to influence and help guide priorities for the U.S. Forest Service. The purpose of the committee is to improve collaborative relationships and to provide advice and recommendations to the Forest Service concerning projects and funding consistent with the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act. Often, projects that may not seem related to off-highway vehicles have a direct effect on riding areas. For example, a timber harvest project may not fully consider existing OHV opportunities. This meeting is scheduled for 10 a.m. at the Willamette Heritage Center, Dye House, 1313 Mill St. SE, Salem. For more information, contact, Jennifer Lippert, RAC coordinator, at (541) 225-6440 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
HARRISBURG, Pa. – Landowners who open their properties for recreational use got a step closer to obtaining some much-needed legal protections when the state House of Representatives approved Recreational Use of Land and Water Act amendments in April. H.B. 544, which now moves to the state Senate for consideration, would shield landowners from lawsuits brought by those using private property for recreation with the permission of the owner. The AMA and the Pennsylvania Off-Highway Vehicle Association believe this bill would also encourage other landowners to allow motorized recreation on their properties.
IWATA, Japan – Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd., has invested $2 million in a Silicon Valley startup that is developing wireless networking, which provides communication between moving vehicles and between moving vehicles and stationary objects. The company, Veniam, is already working with transportation companies in Portugal and is rolling out all-in-one packages for businesses, including communication devices, data management and security. The Yamaha investment is the first by the company’s new subsidiary, Yamaha Motor Ventures & Laboratory Silicon Valley Inc., which began operation in August 2015.
TOKYO, Japan – Honda halted production at its Kumamoto Prefecture factory following the Kumamoto earthquake during April, because the facility sustained extensive damage. Production plans will be determined as repairs progress and component supply resumes. The Kumamoto plant manufactures motorcycles. Honda plans to resume some operations May 6.
TORONTO – The 10th International Female Ride Day is scheduled for May 7. The event, organized by MOTORESS women's motorcycling lifestyle magazine, is intended to unite women across all cultures “through the common platform of motorcycling, no matter the form or style.” The theme for this year’s event is “Just Ride!”
AMSTERDAM, The Netherlands – The Dutch government is considering a ban on gas and diesel vehicles beginning in 2025. The proposal, initiated by the Dutch Labor Party and backed by the lower house of the Dutch parliament, would allow owners of gas- and diesel-powered vehicles to continue to drive them after 2015, but would prohibit the sale of new cars that are not electric or hydrogen-powered. The plan is to eventually eliminate high-polluting vehicles.
MADRID, Spain – Dorna Sports and two of its executives were fined millions of dollars for tax offenses related to the sale of shares in 2003 and 2004. The Spanish Supreme Court found that Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta and Enrique Aldama, chief operating officer and chief financial officer, simulated the sale of shares to avoid paying income tax and to receive undeclared dividends. The court’s Division of Administrative Litigation ruled that Dorna Sports S.L. (the commercial rights holder for MotoGP and World Superbike) sold shares to another company owned by Ezpeleta and Aldama. The supreme court leveled fines of $4.38 million on Ezpeleta and $3.01 million on Aldama.
PICKERINGTON, Ohio – Racers and fans of old motorcycles will have three days of racing at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio, July 8-10, during the American Motorcyclist Association's AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days. The event features vintage and post-vintage competition in hare scrambles, motocross, dirt-track, trials and road racing. The motocross, trials, hare scrambles and vintage road racing events are part of the AMA Vintage Grand Championship, which crowns national champions in these disciplines, while the half-mile dirt track, at nearby Ashland County Fairgrounds, offers one round of the AMA Vintage Dirt Track National Championship Series. More details about AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days will be announced soon. Keep an eye on www.amavintagemotorcycledays.com and www.facebook.com/AMAVintageMotorcycleDays.
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