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AMA News and Notes: September 2012

September 05, 2012

AMA News & Notes is a monthly publication compiled and edited by the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) Government Relations Department. Designed to inform motorcyclists of rights-related issues and events around the world, AMA News & Notes welcomes your input. Suggestions and editorial contributions can be sent to AMA Western States Representative Nick Haris by email at nharis@ama-cycle.org. 

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Washington, D.C.: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will require all consumers to buy at least four gallons of gasoline from certain gas pumps after the new E15 ethanol-gasoline blend is introduced into the market. The EPA revealed the requirement in a letter dated Aug. 1, responding to AMA concerns that E15 -- a gasoline formulation that contains up to 15 percent ethanol by volume -- could be put in motorcycle and all-terrain vehicle gas tanks inadvertently when consumers use blender pumps. A blender pump dispenses different fuel blends through the same hose, and the vast majority of motorcycles and ATVs in use today aren't designed to operate on E15 fuel.

The AMA has repeatedly expressed concerns to government officials and federal lawmakers about possible damage to motorcycle and ATV engines caused by the inadvertent use of E15 when the new fuel becomes widely available, and has asked that motorcycles and ATVs be part of any scientific study into the effects of E15. 
Ethanol is essentially grain alcohol produced from crops such as corn that is mixed with gasoline to produce an ethanol-gasoline blend motor fuel. In October 2010, the EPA approved the use of E15 in model year 2007 and newer light-duty vehicles (cars, light-duty trucks and medium-duty passenger vehicles). Then, in January 2011, the EPA added model year 2001-06 light-duty vehicles to the approved list. 

No motorcycles or ATVs are currently on the list. 
Source and full story: http://www.americanmotorcyclist.com/news/rightsnews/12-08-07/Officials_mandating_minimum_four-gallon_gas_purchase_from_certain_pumps.aspx 

Washington, D.C.: AMA members who want to know where candidates stand on motorcycling related issues heading into Election Day should check out the 2012 AMA Voter Guide.  

Motorcycle-only checkpoints, restricted recreational access to public lands and health insurance discrimination against motorcyclists are just some of the issues used to rate federal congressional (and soon, state gubernatorial and presidential candidates) in the 2012 AMA Voter Guide. 

The AMA 2012 Voter Guide is part of the AMA "Vote Like A Motorcyclist" campaign to help members decide how to cast their ballots in the upcoming elections. Voting and getting involved politically are important because the results of Election Day lay the foundation for legislation and laws. 

If anti-motorcycling candidates earn elected office, then they could legislate away opportunities to ride, cut back or eliminate funding for rider safety training, or even wipe out other programs that motorcyclists have spent years working to implement. 
Source and full story: http://www.americanmotorcyclist.com/news/12-08-17/American_Motorcyclist_Association_launches_2012_Voter_Guide.aspx 

Oroville, Calif.: The Off highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Commission has recently approved a general plan for the Clay Pit State Vehicle Recreation Area. This marks an important step in the ongoing efforts to develop and improve riding opportunities in northern California, and is expected to result in a number of improvements to the facility in the coming years. Visit http://www.ohv.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=25572 for the latest information.

Orofino, Idaho: Two leading Idaho based recreation organizations have sued the United States Forest Service, challenging the Clearwater National Forest's decision to impose the same public use restrictions on areas they have recommended for possible Wilderness classification as one would find in lands actually designated by Congress. 

The suit particularly focuses on management of the "Great Burn" area near the Idaho-Montana border. That area has been a popular snowmobiling destination for decades, and, prior to issuance of the Travel Plan, also received occasional motorcycle and mountain bike use. None of these activities are allowed by the Wilderness Act, unless specifically authorized in a particular piece of legislation. Yet with these uses the Great Burn area has always received "high" ratings for Wilderness attributes in all assessments undertaken by the Forest Service. There is no documentation of resource impacts or other threats to Wilderness character from existing recreation activities that would limit Congressional discretion should Congress ever decide to formally designate it as Wilderness.

The case is entitled Idaho State Snowmobile Ass'n v. U.S. Forest Service, Case No. CV-09-2523. 
Source and full story: http://www.sharetrails.org/news/2012/08/29/recreation-groups-file-suit-stop-illegal-wilderness 

Chicago, Ill: AMA Government Affairs Manager Imre Szauter, along with AMA Board member Jim Viverito recently spent several days educating state lawmakers and their staff about motorcycling issues. The event was the bipartisan National Conference of State Legislatures Legislative Summit, held on Aug. 6-9 at the McCormick Place West convention center. It attracted thousands of state lawmakers from across the country along with many of their staff members. “We had a booth set up and I’m very pleased with the attention we got,” Szauter says. “Not only did a lot of people come over to learn about motorcycling issues, but I was surprised by the number who said they ride motorcycles.”

Springfield, Ill.: Senate Bill 3452, sponsored by Sen. Donne Trotter (D-Chicago) and signed into law by Governor Pat Quinn on July 5, makes changes to state law regarding license plate covers, allows for vertical mounting of motorcycle license plates, raises the limit for motorcycle handlebar grip height to no higher than the operator’s head, permits the use of a motorcycle modulating brake lamp, and creates the offense of aggravated operating of a motorcycle on one wheel if the operator is also speeding.

 Also Senate Bill 2528, sponsored by Sen. Gary Forby (D-Benton) and signed into law by Governor Pat Quinn on July 6, requires motorcyclists to wait not less than 120 seconds before proceeding with due caution through an intersection controlled by a traffic-actuated signal that does not recognize their vehicles. Motorcyclists in Chicago are not permitted to proceed through a malfunctioning traffic-actuated signal.

 And House Bill 930, sponsored by Rep. Dan Beiser (D-Alton) and signed into law by Governor Pat Quinn on July 6, prohibits a law enforcement agency of the state or a political subdivision from accepting federal funding to establish motorcycle-only roadside checkpoints.
 
Des Moines, Iowa: The state has implemented a new system for OHV’s that combines owners' registration, title and decal into one document. Riders renewing their 2013 registrations need to visit the county recorder during this transition. The system will require additional information that owners must bring with them, including their most current registration certificate; make, model, model year and color of the OHV; vehicle identification number, weight, engine displacement and number of wheels.

The system is intended to allow for future renewals to take place online and at participating license vendors. Along with the new system, there is also a new trail pass required for all snowmobilers and for nonresident OHV operators who plan to ride on public lands or public ice, or designated areas like trails and OHV parks.

The trail pass, requested by snowmobile groups, will be used to improve and expand trails and riding opportunities and will be available at local license sales agents. For more information visit: http://www.iowadnr.gov/Recreation/AllTerrainVehiclesATV/ATVRegistration.aspx 

Topeka, Kan.: House Bill 2459, sponsored by Rep. Tom Sloan (R-Lawrence) and signed into law by Governor Sam Brownback on March 21, exempts applicants for class M licenses who have completed prior motorcycle safety training according to department of defense requirements from further written and skill testing by the state.

 Baton Rouge, La.: Senate Bill 582, sponsored by Sen. Richard Gallot (D-Ruston) and signed into law by Governor Bobby Jindal on June 1, raises the motorcycle handlebar height limitation from not more than fifteen inches above the seat occupied by the operator to not higher than the operator’s shoulders when the operator is sitting astride the seat and the operator’s hands are on the handlebar grips.

Jefferson City, Mo.: Senate Bill 719, sponsored by Sen. Mike Kehoe (R-Jefferson City) and signed into law by Governor Jay Nixon on July 12, exempts an active member of the U.S. armed forces who applies for a motorcycle or motortricycle license or endorsement from the state motorcycle skills test if the member has successfully completed a military motorcycle rider training course that meets or exceeds the Motorcycle Safety Foundation curriculum.
 
Trenton, N.J.: Assembly Bill 1074, sponsored by Assembly Member Annette Quijano (D-Union) and signed into law by Governor Christopher Christie on July 18, makes it easier for prosecutors to obtain convictions for vehicular homicide or assault by auto against a person who illegally uses a cell phone while driving and, as a result, kills or injures someone. A person is guilty of death by auto or assault by auto when it is proven that he or she drove a motor vehicle recklessly. The law specifically provides that the illegal use of a cell phone while driving gives rise to an inference that the defendant was driving recklessly.
 
Pickerington, Ohio: Some elite AMA racers are receiving high-level recognition in their states. Ryan Ambrose of Dallas won the 2012 AMA Track Racing Vintage Grand Championship, which prompted Texas Governor Rick Perry to send him a congratulatory certificate. “With talented athletes competing year-round in sports from high school football to motorcycle racing, competition is an enduring passion for Texans,” Perry wrote. “I have no doubt you will continue to make our state proud by displaying courage, leadership and good sportsmanship.”

In New Jersey, Governor Chris Christie wrote to Fred Hoess, congratulating him on qualifying for the 2012 International Six Days Enduro in Saxony, Germany. And in Vermont, Billy Burns received a similar letter from Governor Pete Shumlin for qualifying for this year’s ISDE.

Also in Pickerington, Senate Bill 305, sponsored by Sen. James Hughes (R-Clintonville) and signed into law by Governor John Kasich on June 26, prohibits a person from designing, building, constructing, or fabricating a vehicle with a hidden compartment with the intent to facilitate the unlawful concealment or transportation of a controlled substance. It also prohibits the operation, possession, or use of a vehicle with a hidden compartment by a person with knowledge that the hidden compartment is used or intended to be used to conceal or transport a controlled substance.    

The new law does not prohibit the use of a box, safe, container or other item used to secure valuables, electronics, or firearms providing no controlled substance or visible residue of a controlled substance is evident.
 
Providence, R.I.: Championed by the Rhode Island Motorcycle Association, House Bill 7187, sponsored by Rep. Peter John Petrarca (D-Lincoln) and Senate Bill 2130, sponsored by Sen. John J. Tassoni (D-Smithfield), require that a motorcycle parking plan be established for parking areas, that designated areas be made available beginning on April 1, 2013, within sight of or adjacent to state, city, and town buildings, but does not apply to state airports. Both bills were signed into law by Governor Lincoln Chafee on June 11.

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