December 2004

AMA Government Relations News & Notes is a monthly service compiled and edited by the AMA Government Relations Staff to keep motorcyclists informed of happenings around the world. We welcome your news & views. Please submit all material to Terry Lee Cook, Government Relations Specialist, 13515 Yarmouth Drive, Pickerington, OH 43147; fax 614-856-1920 or e-mail to tcook@ama-cycle.org.

AMA is hosting a Washington, D.C., seminar for motorcyclists who want to learn how to influence governmental decisions, whether in Congress or their local councils.

The seminar is March 6-9, 2005 at the Phoenix Park Hotel in Washington, DC.  Participants will meet and learn from the AMA’s Washington staff, as well as other political experts. In addition to learning about state and federal issues facing motorcyclists today, participants will get tips on building relationships with government agency officials and lobbying elected officials.

Participants will also prepare to meet face-to-face with members of their congressional delegation.  But the seminar isn’t all work; there will be a welcome reception, as well as a luncheon and a banquet over the course of the seminar.

The seminar registration fee is $75. The registration deadline is February 11. AMA membership is required. For more information or to register, contact Sharon Titus at (614) 856-1900, ext. 1252 or by e-mail at stitus@ama-cycle.org.

The final government figures are in on motorcyclist fatalities for 2003, and the numbers aren’t good.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 3,661 motorcyclists were killed in 2003, compared to 3,270 in 2002, for a 12 percent increase.

Sales of new motorcycles were also up sharply in that time period, but the underlying causes for the increase remain unclear.

These figures underscore the need for a comprehensive study into the causes of motorcycle crashes so that effective countermeasures can be developed to improve motorcycle safety.  The AMA is pushing for such a study in Congress. To see how you can help, go to the AMA website at www.AMADirectlink.com and click on the “Rights” link on the left.

Recreation receipts brought in more money than grazing this year for the first time in the history of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). For fiscal year 2004, the BLM collected $13.5 million in recreation receipts compared to $10 million for grazing. Plus, the agency estimates that 93 percent of its contacts with the pubic are now related to recreation.

Recreational fees required to use national forests and parks could become permanent if the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act is approved by Congress before the end of the year. Current legislation requires 80 percent of the fees collected at a certain site be used at that location. 

The fee program began in 1996 to ease the cost of operating and maintaining federal recreation sites. Congress also stressed the fees would be used to improve quality. The National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service collected $175.7 million during fiscal 2002, up from $172.8 million in 2001.

While some money was redirected into local projects, data released by the four federal agencies also revealed that a substantial amount of the fees has remained unused each year. The money has accumulated to $295.8 million. (BLM)

The AMA set up an information booth at the annual meeting of the National Conference of State Legislatures to talk about the Association’s Justice for All campaign.

Justice for All advocates legislation establishing tougher penalties when traffic offenses or criminal actions by motorists result in death or serious injury. The campaign was launched in response to motorcyclists’ reaction to a case in South Dakota, but inadequate sentencing is an issue nationwide.

AMA State Affairs Director Sean Maher and Western States Representative Nick Haris staffed the booth at the annual meeting in Salt Lake City. They answered questions not only about the Justice for All program, but also about other motorcycle-related issues.

The National Conference of State Legislatures is a bipartisan organization that serves legislators and staffs of the states, commonwealths and territories. It provides research, technical assistance and opportunities for policymakers to exchange ideas on state issues, and is an advocate for the interests of the states at the federal level.

The US Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has appointed New Mexico Off Highway Vehicle Alliance (NMOHVA) Vice-president and AMA Ride Into Political Action graduate Joanne Spivack to the Regional Resource Advisory Council (RAC) for the BLM in New Mexico. RAC's were established in 1995 to provide the public an opportunity to advise both the BLM and the US Forest Service on a broad array of resource issues currently facing the agencies. The New Mexico RAC provides input on BLM decisions from local community members, concerned citizens and government officials from all levels. The 15-person RAC represents the many different public land users around the country. Ms. Spivack is the only OHV representative on the RAC and received a letter of recommendation from the AMA.

The Federation of European Motorcyclists' Associations (FEMA) sponsored the 8th Annual  MEP (Member European Parliament, akin to a US Congressman) Motorcycle Ride. European motorcyclists met with their elected Representatives for the event, which has become an immensely popular event with the European Parliament and European Commission. 

There's a potential job opening in August 2005 for an Assistant or Associate Professor who would be teaching a variety of courses in the Parks and Recreation department, including the four OHV recreation courses which were developed with guidance and support from the National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council (NOHVCC).

Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia is seeking applicants for a tenure-track position at the rank of assistant professor or associate professor of the School of Recreation and Park Resources.  Should you possess a doctorate, Marshall is looking for someone to teach undergraduate and graduate courses in Recreation Area and Facility Maintenance, Wildland Recreation Management, Environmental Interpretation, Park Management and Operation, Introduction to Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation, Planning and Design of OHV Trail Systems, Construction of OHV Trail Systems, and Operation and Management of OHV Trail Systems. 

These OHV courses will allow students an opportunity to obtain a minor in OHV recreation and the courses will be available on the Internet. Inquiries about this possible faculty position may be directed to: Dr Jeff Chandler Ph.D., Chairman, Division of Exercise, Sport, and Recreation, Marshall University, Huntington, West Virginia 25755, (304) 696-2924,  chandler@marshall.edu

A British campaign for the introduction of a minimum age limit of 16 years for motorcycle passengers, which would essentially ban children from riding pillion on motorcycles, has been initiated after the recent death of an eight year old in East Sussex.

The child's mother and campaign organizers have visited the Department for Transport to hand in a 3000 signature petition which has the initial support of their local Representatives.

The Motorcycle Action Group (MAG-UK) has looked closely at this sensitive issue as well as conducting a members' survey in order to
understand views on young passengers. The result has been the publication of MAG's document “Young Pillion Riders: Should they be banned?" which is available at www.mag-uk.org.

AMA member Mike Conaway has been elected to the US Congress (R-Texas-11) with 77% of total ballots cast in that race. Representative-elect Conaway will represent a large Congressional district including Midland County. The American Motorcyclist Political Action Committee (AMPAC) supported Representative-elect Conaway’s campaign.

Lee County, Virginia’s Stone Mountain All Terrain Vehicle Club, empowered by a growing statewide interest in local mountain trails, has started a grassroots effort to establish a recognized and regulated ATV trail system on the mountain for which they've named their organization.

Most trails in Lee County traverse private property and roads constructed for fire control purposes by the Virginia Department of Forestry. The club would like to see those trails permitted and regulated for not just off-road vehicles, but also for hikers, mountain bikers, horse enthusiasts and others.

The club points out West Virginia’s Hatfield-McCoy trail system, and that after a decade of persistence a once-depressed area is now beginning to thrive. The West Virginia legislature approved the creation of an authority to oversee the trail system, and that authority sells permits that fund trail maintenance, trailhead development and amenities, and enforcement officers. The system now draws an average of 3,500 riders monthly.  The club speculates that Lee County could do just as well.

The club has affiliated with state and national organizations related to off-highway vehicles, including the ATVA, and through contacts made with them, clubs from across Virginia - and even from other states in the region - have been visiting Lee County. They have already received support from the County Board of Supervisors to allow ATVs to make short trips from trails to local businesses to refuel or purchase supplies, and they’re hopeful to get state legislation for the same thing.

New Jersey Assemblymen Michael Panter (D-Red Bank) and Robert Morgan (D-Red Bank) have introduced A3425 which prohibits operation of motor vehicles on race tracks in the State located within a one-mile radius of residential housing.  In addition, the bill prohibits the use of public address systems at race tracks on any day before 11 am or after 10 pm, except for Sundays, during which the prohibition is before 11 am or after 7 pm.

            A3425 carries penalties of $2,500 for the first offense, $5,000 for the second offense, $10,000 for the third offense, and $25,000 for the fourth and subsequent offenses.

Garden State motorcyclists are encouraged to contact their respective representatives and urge them to oppose A3425. You can find your elected representatives on the AMA Statewatch section of www.AMADirectlink.com.

North Carolina highway safety agencies including, the Governor’s Highway Safety Program, NC Motorcycle Safety Training Program, and the NC Motorcycle Education Fund are distributing motorcycle awareness post cards at dealerships and agencies.  The cards have colorful artwork and the message “Your Friends Ride, Your Neighbors Ride, Share the Road.”

The 2004 US Congressional election proved to be one that was an important to all Americans, especially motorcycle and ATV riders.

With 435 US House races and 34 US Senate races there were some interesting numbers involved. There were 44 open seats (36 House/8 Senate), 69 races where the Republican or Democrat has no major party opposition, with just over 1,300 total candidates (900+ Republican and Democrat).  Of these 72% have websites and e-mail, 84% were male, and 16% were female.  19% are attorneys and 25% have served in the military.  One surprising figure was that of all the candidates for US Congress 49% held no prior elected office and only 33% have state legislative experience.

The American Motorcyclist Association’s Political Action Committee (AMPAC) donated $37,250 to 52 Congressional candidates with a success rate of 91% of our recipients being elected into office. 

The AMA recently represented the Motorcyclists’ International Cooperative, comprised of the AMA, Federation of European Motorcyclist Associations (FEMA), and Motorcycle Riders Foundation (MRF), at a United Nations meeting on worldwide standards for motorcycle braking systems.

AMA Legislative Affairs Specialist Imre Szauter attended the UN working group meeting in Montreal, Canada, as a non-voting participant, to provide the motorcyclists’ perspective regarding the harmonization of motorcycle braking standards and to observe the proceedings.

The AMA holds non-governmental-organization (NGO) status with the U.N., which allows the AMA to participate in the World Forum for the Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations, a U.N. group that is considering international motor-vehicle standards. The forum is charged with setting regulations in areas such as safety, emissions, energy efficiency and theft prevention. The United States is one of the countries that signed the agreement creating the forum, raising the possibility that standards set by the international agency could become law in America.

Kentucky State Representative Fred Nesler (D- Mayfield) has introduced BR216 for the 2005 Commonwealth Legislative session.  This bill permits any local government to erect motorcycle awareness signs to increase the awareness of the traveling public to the possible presence of motorcycles in the right-of-way of any highway in all of the Bluegrass State’s 120 counties.

If passed the fluorescent yellow-green signs authorized to be erected consist of two (2) signs. The upper sign will be diamond shaped with a motorcyclist pictured on the sign. A second rectangular sign being placed directly below the diamond shaped sign and contain the words "Share the Road."

The AMA encourages all Kentucky motorcyclists to contact their respective representatives and urge them to support BR216. You can find your elected representatives on the AMA Statewatch section of www.AMADirectlink.com.