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  • DC Insider: Health Insurance Discrimination – Are you covered?

    My dad always told me, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” When you’re young, you don’t really get it. What is there to prevent? What could possibly happen to you? You’re invincible, right? It’s not your intention to tempt fate; it’s just a normal part of being young. We all have moments though, when we are abruptly woken from our youthful dreamland and reality hits us like a freight train.

    As the first week’s theme of Freedom Friday --“Health-Insurance Discrimination”-- comes to a close, I was reminded of just such an incident that forever changed the life of a friend of mine. It was the weekend of July 4th in Salt Lake City several years ago. My friend and her new beau were on his motorcycle, enjoying their second date. As they were leaving the fireworks display they had just attended they were hit from behind on the freeway. The couple was thrown from his motorcycle. My friend hit the asphalt with such force that it actually shook her right out of her helmet and left her unconscious in the middle of the freeway. Somehow in the ensuing chaos, her brave beau, ran back into traffic and pulled her to safety. While this action prevented her from being hit by oncoming traffic, she was seriously injured. She was rushed to a local hospital and surgery was performed. Her life was spared.

    As fate would have it, this young couple later married and recently welcomed their first child.

    While this story has a happy ending, my friend faced a challenging recovery and expensive hospital bill. Being a single young woman, working as a waitress part-time, she didn’t have health insurance. The driver who hit them fled the scene. He was never apprehended.

    As adults, we are cautious and take measures to prevent situations like this. But what if you thought you had done everything you could do to protect yourself and found out too late that you were wrong?  The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was meant to protect workers from being denied health-care coverage based on their participation in legal activities such as motorcycle riding. Unfortunately, the intent of Congress was reversed when rules were written to implement the law. As a result, health-insurance benefit discrimination against motorcyclists and others continues.

    Do you know that you are covered if injured while riding, or do you just think you are?

    Don’t find out too late. Make sure to read the “Exceptions” section of your health insurance plan’s benefits. This will tell you exactly what your plan won’t cover. It’s better to be certain before something happens than to find out as a result of an accident. The AMA has been fighting health-insurance discrimination for years and is now on Capitol Hill lobbying to change the law so that this form of discrimination no longer exists. In the meantime, being prepared and exercising some prevention will protect you from the panic that comes from trying to figure out the cure.

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  • DC Insider: The AMA’s latest efforts to educate lawmakers on E15

    On March 20, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce initiated a bipartisan review of the Renewable Fuel Standard by issuing the first of a series of white papers. The goal of the white papers is to examine a number of issues emerging with the current fuels available to motorists and solicit input from interested stakeholders.

    The first one examines the “Blend Wall,” which is the limit at which ethanol can be readily added to the gasoline supply in order to comply with the RFS. The AMA did so, and provided comments to questions pertaining to E15 fuel, a blend of gasoline that includes up to 15 percent ethanol by volume.

    We explained how the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to allow E15 into the marketplace would impact every American who owns motorcycles and ATVs, not to mention cars, lawnmowers, boats and snowmobiles. Manufacturers have stated that the use of E15 may void warranties. In off-road engines, the effects can even be dangerous for users.

    Moreover, we indicated to the committee our concerns about E15 being mistakenly used and damaging engines and how the EPA’s initial misfueling mitigation plan was to require four-gallons of gasoline to help dilute the residual E15 left in the blender-pump hose – not a very practical solution for motorcyclists and ATV riders!

    At the time, the AMA objected to this plan because our members’ fuel tanks’ capacities are normally two-to-three gallons on average. We also objected to the concept of any fuel purchase mandate whatsoever.

    So, on Feb. 7, the EPA posted its new misfueling mitigation plan.

    Under the new option, retailers who use a blender pump to sell E15 and E10 fuel through the same hose must also have a separate E10/E0 fuel pump. Those retailers would be required to have a label on the blender pump that reads: “Passenger Vehicles Only. Use in Other Vehicles, Engines and Equipment May Violate Federal Law.” Retailers would also be required to have signs indicating the location of the dedicated E10-or-lower fuel pump. There would be no minimum-fuel-purchase requirement at that pump.

    Given the growing controversy over E15, the AMA can only imagine how many motorists and motorcyclists will be lining up at that single pump to get E10-or-lower fuel! That’s why we continue to push for common-sense solutions and, in the case of E15 fuel, we want an independent scientific study that documents the effects of this fuel on motorcycle and ATV engines. That’s being proposed now in Congress, and we’ll report on that in another blog post.

    Just another example of the AMA looking out for you—the rider!

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  • DC Insider: Keeping Trails Open for All

    With spring underway, riders across the country will start to notice more restrictions placed on access to trails on federal land. This is no coincidence. Federal land management policies across the country have been becoming more restrictive and less friendly to off-highway vehicle riders.

    A recent study found that up to 4,500 miles of multiple use trails in Colorado – a whopping 50-70 percent – are slated for closure under resource management plans that are currently being implemented and/or devised. This is terrible news for the OHV community because it means fewer opportunities to leave civilization behind, experience a change of scenery, and explore the great outdoors.

    There is positive news.  All resource management plans introduced must be released to the public by being published in the Federal Register, a publication that our very own Rick Podliska, AMA deputy director of government relations, reviews daily. Most notices published have at least a 30-day comment period. By being aware of comment periods, the OHV community has the opportunity to submit comments to federal agencies and have our voices heard.

    More good news: Our voices matter! By being aware and proactive the OHV community has successfully defeated proposals to limit access on federal lands in the past, and we will continue to do so in the future.

    Unfortunately, several federal agencies have adopted policies which limit what gets posted in the Federal Register. Recently, we received word of a comment period for a new trail. However, this was never mentioned in the Federal Register. In fact, without our extensive network of AMA members across the country, we may have missed this opportunity to comment.

    Our response from the agency in charge was, because this trail opening did not have a “significant impact on the human environment,” the notice was not legally required to be placed in the Federal Register. We are now investigating where the line is drawn between “significant” and “less than significant,” but I know I do not like the idea of someone else determining it for me.

    Contrary to the official position, I am supremely confident that the opening, or closure, of a trail would constitute a very significant event for those nearby. It certainly would have made a big impact where I used to ride.

    I hope that as we all enjoy riding – either on- or off-highway – we remain vigilant to the threats to our chosen pastime. When the motorcycling community works together, we can ensure that on- and off-highway motorcycling will not only remain an exhilarating American pastime, but also an important an economic driver in our communities. In other words, a truly inspiring enterprise.

    If you happen to notice activity in your area, please contact us at grassroots@ama-cycle.org.

    Have a safe and adventurous April.

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  • DC Insider

    The AMA has launched a blog, DC Insider, on our activities in Washington, D.C. to protect your right to ride. The blog ranges from covering a serious topic one day to not-so-serious banter on other days. Regardless of the issue, we welcome you to our blog! 
     

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  • Paying from both ends to support ethanol

    As of now, we know the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is requiring all consumers to buy at least four gallons of gasoline when they use certain E15 ethanol-gasoline blend pumps.

    That’s the EPA’s solution to the effects of E15 on our motorcycle and all-terrain vehicle engines. 

    We also know that ethanol production is subsidized by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture.

    What folks may not know is that the USDA provides grants to gasoline storeowners to purchase these special ethanol blender pumps.  

    That’s right.  

    The USDA subsidizes the growing of the corn on the front end, and then subsidizes the cost of special ethanol blender pumps to sell the finished product on the back end.

    Check it out, just search the Internet for “USDA accepts applications for blender pump installations.”

    If this is the new norm, the AMA should request the U.S. Forest Service -- part of the USDA -- give the OHV community millions of acres of land, and then pay us to ride on it!

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  • Kids Just Want To Ride! Celebrate your victory with the AMA!

    The one-year anniversary of the signing of legislation that allowed the continued sale of kids’ dirtbikes and all-terrain vehicles is fast approaching. A couple of our legislative friends on Capitol Hill gave a celebratory shout out before they split town for the August recess.  

    U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.) submitted statements to be inserted into the Congressional Record on Aug. 2.

        Klobucher stated for the Congressional Record: “Mr./Madame President, few states appreciate the importance of outdoor recreation the way we do in Minnesota—whether it’s cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, fishing, hiking or off-roading, these activities are more than just hobbies for us—they are a way of life and they are woven into the fabric of our economy. That is why today I rise to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the passage of the lead standard exemptions for youth all-terrain vehicles.
    “Minnesota is home to many strong recreational product manufacturers that provide jobs and have helped move our economy forward during these difficult times. Our economy doesn’t hinge on churning money around Wall Street, it hinges on building things and the motorcycle and all-terrain vehicle industry is a shining example of that. This industry is not just about recreation—it’s about jobs, it’s about manufacturing, and it’s about preserving a key part of our culture and economy.
    “I supported the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act when it passed in 2008 because it addressed serious safety concerns about lead in children’s toys. But when we have legislation as detailed and sweeping as the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, certain adjustments and clarifications sometimes need to be made, as we saw with the lead limits for youth all-terrain vehicles. Simply put, children’s off-road vehicles were never supposed to be subject to requirements in the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act.    “The law was designed to protect our kids, but by banning youth-sized all-terrain vehicles children were put at risk because they started riding oversized adult vehicles that don’t take the same considerations as a model meant to accommodate children. Once it became clear that the Consumer Product Safety Commission was going to hold youth all-terrain vehicles to the new lead requirements, I began working to find a solution to the problem.
         “That is why I pushed to pass the amendments to the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act last year to exempt youth all-terrain vehicles from lead standards. August 12th will be the one-year anniversary of enactment of these amendments to Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act into law.
         “I would like to commemorate the one year anniversary of passage of these amendments to Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act that help protect our children and ensure they enjoy the outdoors for many years to come.”.

        Rehberg said for the Congressional Record: “Mr. Speaker, I rise today in honor of the upcoming one-year anniversary of the Kids Just Want to Ride Act being signed into law. This bill, which I authored to end enforcement of an overreaching prohibition of lead in youth-sized ATVs, motorcycles and snowmobiles, was added to a larger piece of legislation that was signed into law on August 12th, 2011.
        “When Congress passed a law banning lead from children’s toys, no one thought that those enforcing the law would expand the definition of ‘toy’ to include youth-size ATVs, motorcycles and snowmobiles.  But over the strong protests of riders and their advocates, Washington bureaucrats forced youth-sized ATVs and motorcycles to be pulled off showroom floors. All this did was force our kids to ride more dangerous adult-sized vehicles, putting them at extreme risk.
        “This just didn’t make sense.  I authored the Kids Just Want to Ride Act so that this issue would be solved legislatively once and for all, but I didn’t do it on my own. An amazing community of youth riders, their parents, and those who love youth racing and recreational activities backed me up with letters, phone calls, and visits to Washington, D.C., to rally for the bill. I was honored to be included in the riding community and continue to be impressed by their love for sport and for their fellow riders.
        “Mr. Speaker, I am again honored to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the Kids Just Want to Ride Act, and thank you for the opportunity to celebrate the amazing American riding community that rallied behind it.”

    This passage of the legislation by Congress, and it’s signing by the President, was a monumental victory for the riding community and all the young riders who got involved. How have you and your family celebrated this victory over the past year? Submit your stories to submissions@ama-cycle.org.

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  • Are motorcycle-only checkpoints in the rear view mirror?

    Yes is the answer, if you live in California, Illinois, New Hampshire, North Carolina and Virginia!  This is great news for our AMA members and motorcyclists in those states. However, for the rest of the states, the AMA continues to keep the pressure on.

    At the federal level, H.R. 904 continues to gain support. This bill would prohibit federal funding for motorcycle-only checkpoints. Currently, the bill has 53 bipartisan cosponsors and more are expected to support it. If your representative is not a cosponsor, urge him or her to cosponsor today by using our alert. It is easy to use and takes very little time.

    The AMA and other motorcycling organizations attempted to insert H.R. 904 in the transportation reauthorization conference report—a massive transportation spending authorization plan that was recently approved by Congress. Many AMA members and riders helped by contacting their representatives to urge them to include H.R. 904 in the report. The AMA is very appreciative of all who took action. Unfortunately, the House-Senate conferees to the conference committee failed to adopt the language.

    This was a missed opportunity by Congress to say to the motorcycling community that profiling a legal mode of transportation is unacceptable.

    Be assured, the AMA will continue to explore all avenues to either pass H.R. 904 as a stand-alone bill or attach it to another legislative vehicle. To stay informed of our latest efforts on the MOC issue, go to www.americanmotorcyclist.com/rights/motorcycleonlycheckpoints.aspx.

    This is just one of many examples of the work the AMA is doing to help protect your freedoms to ride and race.

    It may take some time, but with your help motorcycle-only checkpoints will be in the rear view mirror soon!

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  • The AMA endorses Governor’s mode of transportation to veterans’ event

    The state of Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback will be riding a motorcycle with friends and supporters to an event honoring military veterans as well as Fort Riley soldiers and their families.  Here’s to you Gov. Brownback for choosing to honor our veterans on two-wheeled freedom!

    Read more “Brownback to lead Flint Hills motorcycle ride.”

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  • Want to Get Involved More?

    The American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) is starting a new State Chapter pilot program to help you with a new way of getting involved in your state. Whether you ride on the pavement or in the dirt, the motorcycling community is strongest when we work together.

    Since 1924, the AMA has relied on partner organizations to help advance its mission: to promote the motorcycling lifestyle and protect the future of motorcycling. The AMA is now embarking on a new initiative to create statewide partners. These AMA State Chapters will strengthen the voice of motorcyclists at a local level, and create an even stronger network through which motorcyclists across the country can stand together to protect their freedoms while enjoying the motorcycling lifestyle.

    Read more “Welcome to AMA State Chapters!

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  • AMA Activists Recognized Again

    The Congressional Management Foundation, a nonpartisan nonprofit dedicated to helping congressional staff foster improved management practices, recognizes the American Motorcyclist Association’s efforts to fight the lead law.

    The lead law banned the making, importing, distributing or selling of any product intended for children 12 and under, including kids' dirtbikes and all-terrain vehicles, that contained more than a specified amount of lead in any accessible part that might be ingested.

    CMF is excited to introduce a new feature in which we look at successful advocacy campaigns that align with what congressional staff members have told CMF are effective methods for communicating with Congress. It’s always valuable to learn about real-life examples that support the research!

    This month, we’re talking with the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) about their legislatively successful and award-winning “Kids Just Want To Ride!” advocacy campaign.

    Continue reading “Advocacy Spotlight: ‘I Promise I Will Not Eat My Motorcycle.’”

    The AMA could not have accomplished this without you!

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