MRF LEADERS' REPORT
Motorcycle Riders Foundation
236 Massachusetts Ave. NE
Suite 510
Washington, DC 20002-4980
202-546-0983 (voice)
202-546-0986 (fax)
jeff@mrf.org  (e-mail)
http://www.mrf.org  (website)

#05LR07 - MRF LEADERS' REPORT - Ride With The Leaders - November 14, 2005

TO:  The Leaders of the American Motorcyclists' Rights Movement

FROM:  Jeff Hennie, MRF Vice President - Government Relations

SUBJECT: November Leaders Report

Congressional Hearing on the Motor Vehicle Owners Right to Repair Act (HR2048)

The Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection met on November 10th   to question the motor vehicle manufacturers and aftermarket part industries on the “Right to Repair” bill. Under current law, motor vehicle and motorcycle manufacturers must make available publicly, only information pertaining to the emissions on board diagnostic systems under an Environmental Protection Agency mandate. This results, in some cases forced owners to return to the dealership for other repairs that might have been less expensive and more convenient to fix at a local mechanic or even by getting their own hands dirty. 

The rapid advancement in braking, ignition, security and safety technology has resulted in more sophisticated diagnostic tools and equipment that manufactures are reluctant to make available to the shade tree mechanic or vehicle owner. Without access to the same training and tools made readily available to those within the dealership network, many small shops are being forced to turn away work. In fact in a survey of aftermarket automotive technicians, over fifty percent of them have turned away one to six jobs a month.       

Consumer safety is also compromised when local repair shops of choice aren’t provided information to conduct certain repairs causing drivers and riders to avoid some needed repairs due to costly dealership service prices.

This legislation is nothing new, the coalition of groups that supports the legislation has been attempting to right this wrong for almost six years.  So, why is it taking so long? During a hearing on this measure in the 107th Congress it was decided that the disputing parties would attempt to resolve the issue with a non-legislative answer. Their answer was to set up an independent council comprised of aftermarket and motor vehicle manufacturers and agree on the way to share the information in question voluntarily. However an agreement was never reached because of a lone holdout in the manufacturers’ camp, an expensive and top of the line European manufacturer.

Back to the hearing, Chairman Sterns (R-FL) the subcommittee chair set the tone for the hearing in his opening statement when he said “All parties agree that access to repair and service information is a consumer right”.  Other members at the hearing echoed the Chairman’s sentiments. Even the full Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Joe Barton (R-TX) was in attendance. His strong statement of support of the bill was almost the nail in the coffin for the motor vehicle manufactures. Barton went on saying, “Federal legislation is not the answer to everything but in this case, after four years of discussion with no results, it’s the only answer”. Barton also happens to be the original sponsor of HR 2048, and is the one man who can see this legislation to the House floor for a vote and has vowed to do so. A full Energy and Commerce committee mark up is tentatively scheduled for sometime the first two weeks of December.

Jeff Hennie, Vice President of Government Relations for the Motorcycle Riders Foundation said, “This issue is about access and information but ultimately about consumer choice. Purchasing a motorcycle from your favorite manufacturer shouldn’t tie you to them as long as you own the motorcycle. We as the owners should be able to make the decision who performs maintenance or upgrades our motorcycles.”

We have the right to remain silent, the right to an attorney and now the US House of Representatives wants you to have the right to repair your motorcycle. Call your Member of Congress at 202 224 3121 and ask them to please support HR 2048, the Motor Vehicle Owner Right to Repair act of 2005.  The Motorcycle Riders Foundation will continue to provide updates on this important legislation.

MRF E-MAIL NEWS
Motorcycle Riders Foundation
236 Massachusetts Ave. NE
Suite 510
Washington, DC 20002-4980
202-546-0983 (voice)
202-546-0986 (fax)
http://www.mrf.org (website)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: JD DePaolantonio, MRF Director of Communications and Information
jd@mrf.org (e-mail)

October 26, 2005

#05NR28 - BikePAC of Oregon Press Release

The Motorcycle Riders Foundation (MRF) is issuing the following release at the request of BikePAC of Oregon.

BikePAC of Oregon news release -- Motorcycle Safety Foundation asks to have its course certified in Oregon

Bike PAC of Oregon      PAC 00019

Friday, October 21, MSF’s Oregon lobbyist formally presented a report asking MSF’s Beginning Rider Course (BRC) motorcycle training program to be certified by ODOT. This manuscript is a self-critique by MSF evaluating their program against Team Oregon. Team Oregon is currently the only state approved rider training which can grant DMV skills test waivers for getting driver’s license motorcycle endorsements. MSF is asking to be able to issue DMV test waivers as well.

BikePAC received a copy of this book and it is currently under review. According to Ken Ray, Executive Director of BikePAC, there will be more detailed information in the future about the contents. Ken does believe there are several items in this document that bear some initial scrutiny. For example under section IV, Comparing BRC to Team Oregon, MSF believes that an acceptable training motorcycle for a first-time rider is one that is 500cc and 30 inches high at the seat. Also the MSF document has quite a bit of condemnation of Team Oregon and the methodology of Oregon’s study which evaluated rider training in the state. A National research group affiliated with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently declared Team Oregon as having the highest national ranking in promising practices in motorcycle safety and rider training. BikePAC therefore finds MSF’s criticism out of place in a document purported to be an objective side-by-side evaluation. However, the proposal must be examined at face value and objectively assessed.

BikePAC has full confidence that the Governor’s Advisory Board on Motorcycle safety will evaluate this proposal thoroughly. As BikePAC’s primary desire is for the most effective rider training to be in place in Oregon, we welcome a fair, thorough and objective appraisal. It was made clear that there will be an opportunity for public input and the views of all of us will be taken into account. It will be crucial for every rider in Oregon to stay on top of this issue. Motorcyclists in Oregon created the Oregon motorcycle safety program from scratch some 20 years ago and we are all the caretakers of it for the future.

For more information, contact:

Ken Ray                       

Executive Director 
503 351 8193
www.bikepac.com

MRF E-MAIL NEWS
Motorcycle Riders Foundation
236 Massachusetts Ave. NE
Suite 510
Washington, DC 20002-4980
202-546-0983 (voice)
202-546-0986 (fax)
http://www.mrf.org (website)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: JD DePaolantonio, MRF Director of Communications and Information
jd@mrf.org (e-mail)

October 13, 2005

#05NR26 - ABATE of LOUISIANA Press Release

The Motorcycle Riders Foundation (MRF) is issuing the following release at the request of ABATE of Louisiana, Inc.

The motorcycling community from across the United States has been very generous in answering our call for relief donations and we are deeply grateful for their generosity. Although I would like to mention all the people and Organizations that have made donations to this effort here they are too numerous. For a complete list of the Organizations, Businesses, and Individuals who have donated to this cause go to this link: http://www.abateoflouisiana.org/katrinasupporters.htm

On October 6th A.B.A.T.E. Of La., Inc. held it’s first committee meeting to set the ground rules for providing relief and to start identifying those who were displaced and affected throughout the state of Louisiana. Although we have stated that we will help all motorcyclists we can throughout this state affected by the devastation left behind by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita the first seven people we have approved are members of A.B.A.T.E. Of La., Inc., three of these individuals were left virtually homeless, the others have suffered great loss and are receiving no federal help whatsoever. We are starting to realize how daunting of a task this is. Although the motorcycling community has been quite generous in their contributions we have realized through our Internet Conferencing discussions that we only have enough funds to help approximately ten families. We are not disheartened by this fact; these are ten more families than we would have been able to help otherwise.

I wish to personally thank everyone in the motorcycling community for their incredible outpouring of support in our time of need. This outpouring of support means nothing in the sense of dollars and cents, but everything in the spirit of community, a community that cares and takes care of it’s own, a community that is unlike any other and one that I’m very proud to be a part of.

James “Poet” Sisco
Executive State President
A.B.A.T.E. Of La., Inc.

MRF LEADERS' REPORT
Motorcycle Riders Foundation
236 Massachusetts Ave. NE
Suite 510
Washington, DC 20002-4980
202-546-0983 (voice)
202-546-0986 (fax)
jeff@mrf.org  (e-mail)
http://www.mrf.org  (website)

#05LR06 - MRF LEADERS' REPORT - Ride With The Leaders - October 14, 2005

TO:  The Leaders of the American Motorcyclists' Rights Movement

FROM:  Jeff Hennie, MRF Vice President - Government Relations

SUBJECT: October Leaders Report

“That’s the night the lights went out in Georgia” or was it Little Rock?  Let me just say maybe it was the fact it was my second Meeting of the Minds or maybe it was because the air conditioning wasn’t working at the auction or maybe it was because Hairy George gave me a dress. Whatever it was, this year Little Rock did exactly that, it rocked.

This year the MRF turned 21 years old and had a party with lots of things to celebrate. I know I am not the only one that way; you could see it on almost every face.  Thanks to everyone from ABATE of Arkansas for your hard work and thank you to those who came out to make this year a great one.

Mark your calendars for the next MOTM in Indianapolis, Indiana September 21st through September 24th, 2006.  What did you do for your twenty-second birthday?

The View from the Hill

With the highway bill (HR 3) done and out of the way the MRF agenda has turned to shepherding the motorcycle safety grant program and advisory council into operation.

There has been a lot of talk lately about how we will pay for the devastation in the Gulf Coast Region and some talk has mentioned gutting the highway bill to free up some extra cash. I can tell that if that does happen (though I doubt it will), it will not affect any of the grant money whatsoever. The twenty- five million dollars set aside for motorcycle rider education and awareness programs will stay put.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has yet to release the details of how the states can apply to the program. When they do, the MRF will immediately let you know.  So get to work with your state program administrator and start identifying where to spend the money. If we do not spend the money this time around, prior to the close of 2009, it won’t be there next time Congress drafts a highway bill.

Contact the MRF DC office with any questions you have about the newly available funds, which were supported by and solely lobbied for by the MRF, its members, and the supporting State Motorcycle Rights Organizations (SMROs).

Speaking of NHTSA

NHTSA held its second motorcycle safety network meeting a few weeks back. The meetings are organized by NHTSA and generally attended by a host of government folks as well as AMA, MRF, SMSA, MSF, Harley Davidson, Honda and Kawasaki.  The meetings are conducted quarterly at NHTSA headquarters. This most recent meeting started off on the issue of impaired riding and how to address the motorcyclists who are continuing to drink and ride. The fact is alcohol continues to be a major factor in the rise of motorcycle crash fatalities and the government is paying close attention. The discussion largely focused on education and awareness campaigns to instill fear in motorcyclists should they get caught and lose their motorcycle or be subject to some other punishment. This must become a priority for motorcyclists everywhere. If as a community we do nothing, the government will do it for us and I can tell you one thing, you will not like it.

The meeting continued discussing the Florida and Louisiana helmet studies. At this point NHTSA indicated after the Louisiana study is completed, they would not be doing helmet studies for a while.

Then NHTSA presented a study they had done on traditional braking versus Antilock Braking Systems (ABS). They concluded the more technically advanced ABS is more reliable and perform better than traditional brakes over a wider range of weather, load and handling conditions. Thank the good folks at NHTSA for figuring that one out for us.

Honda presented photos of a new option package for the Goldwing, the navigation and airbag combined option.  Honda seems confident this will be a popular item with its customers. Why is the navigation system only offered with the airbag option? I guess so you can tell where you are if you crash.

Overall, I am encouraged by NHTSA’s efforts to address the growing problem of motorcycle fatalities and their engagement with the motorcycle community directly.  Next meeting is in January. Stay tuned.

Dealership Service only?

A bill (HR 2048) has been introduced in the US House of Representatives that would penalize any motor vehicle manufacturers who forces owners of their motor vehicle products to rely on the dealership for maintenance and upkeep. 

In order to generate greater revenue, some motor vehicle manufacturers are intentionally designing vehicles to prohibit maintenance providers outside of the dealership network. No matter if you are in your driveway or at the corner wrench’s shop, to be able perform certain aspects of maintenance in any manner at all was questionable. HR 2048, otherwise known as the “Right to Repair Act of 2005”, puts penalties in place for any motor vehicle manufacturer who fails to provide proper training, diagnostic tools and any other special advice or tools to the owner of the motor vehicle or to a motor vehicle owner’s approved mechanic. The legislation clearly states “the ability to diagnose, service and repair a motor vehicle in a timely, reliable and affordable manner is essential to the safety and well-being of motor vehicle consumers in the United States”.

HR 2048 was introduced by Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) on May 3, 2005 and already has over 50 bi-partisan co-sponsors. No Senate counterpart has been introduced yet. The MRF will keep you informed on the movement of this legislation.

The Energy H.O.G.?

The US Department of Energy (DOE) recently unveiled it newest attempt to solve the nation’s energy problem.  While it’s true that our nation is struggling with arguably the worst energy crisis since 1970, DOE had a chance to seriously address the problem. Instead they came up with a PR campaign to educate the youth of America.  In order to reach the youngsters, DOE came up with a cartoon “spokes villain” the kids could observe wasting energy.

Bring in the Energy Hog, a big, goateed, mohawked, pierced, leather jacketed pig of a fellow, standing on his hind hoofs. I know what you are thinking, “Wait…I know that guy!” The answer is you probably do or someone who resembles him, minus the hoofs I hope.  The MRF felt the Secretary of Energy should be informed we felt by using an obviously “biker” image to portray the wasteful scoundrel was in bad taste considering the gas efficiency of the majority motorcycles when compared to other vehicles on the highway, not to mention the depiction it is just simply rude.  We haven’t received a response yet but will make it public when we do. If you ask me it should have been the “soccer mom sport utility stuck in traffic energy hog”.  (No offense Mom!) You can witness this particular waste of federal money at its own website complete with video game. at: http://www.energyhog.org/

Spring is on the way
 
Soon the holidays will be on us and after a three month self-induced turkey- triptophane binge, it will be time to come to Washington DC to lobby your Congressional delegation. Don’t wait until you are getting the bike ready for the summer to start planning. The time to organize is now. Some states have already begun to book their trips. I know it may seem early but spring will be here before you know it and that’s when it is the best time to let your elected officials what you want from them. Take a look at your calendar for February, March, April and May 2006.

Please call the MRF DC office once you have several potential dates so we can look at the congressional calendar for the second session of the 109th Congress and figure out the most effective dates to visit DC. Please direct any travel or logistic questions to me in the DC office as well.

Of course it would be ideal if every state could send a group to the Capitol hopefully, someday that will be the case. This year the MRF is doing things a little differently asking the home states of the ten members of the House and Senate who won the MRF Champion award for 2005 to consider sending a group for the explicit purpose of hand delivering the award to their member of Congress. The list of the 2005 MRF Champions states includes: Alaska, Ohio, Maine, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Oregon, Texas, and Oklahoma. If your SMRO is represented by one of those states, please consider coming to DC if you aren’t already.

Also, the other forty-two states should seriously consider a trip to Washington in 2006. It will be a great year to come, thank our supporters for everything they did in 2005 and question the folks who tried to stand in our way and lost. 

Keep riding  -Jeff Hennie

MRF E-MAIL NEWS
Motorcycle Riders Foundation
236 Massachusetts Ave. NE
Suite 510
Washington, DC 20002-4980
202-546-0983 (voice)
202-546-0986 (fax)
http://www.mrf.org (website)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: JD DePaolantonio, MRF Director of Communications and Information
jd@mrf.org (e-mail)

October 14, 2005

#05NR27 - A.B.A.T.E. of Mississippi Press Release

The Motorcycle Riders Foundation (MRF) is issuing the following release at the request of A.B.A.T.E. of Mississippi.

A.B.A.T.E. of Mississippi Katrina Relief Fund
October 13, 2005

A.B.A.T.E. of Mississippi would like to thank the many organizations and individuals from around the country that have so generously donated money and clothes to the Katrina Relief effort that we have going in Mississippi.  This relief effort will be an ongoing issue for many months to come.  The massive destruction of the Mississippi Gulf Coast area cannot be described in any amount of pictures and newscasts.  The real tragedy is the loss of people’s history and family treasures, not to mentions their homes and possessions.

At least two meeting will be held in November to discuss how to distribute the money and other donations to our coastal brother and sisters.  Although we are going to help as many members of the motorcycle community as we can, we will first focus on our A.B.A.T.E. members, then members of the COC that A.B.A.T.E. of MS is connected with.  After that we will help as many other as we can. 

We have realized that we cannot help every biker in Mississippi that was affected by the Katrina, but even if we only help a few, that is a few more than would have been helped.  Our first task is to locate the affected, as they have been displaced to who knows where.  But thanks to the help from so many, we will be able to help those we can find. 

A.B.A.T.E. of Mississippi would like to thank each and every one of the organizations and individuals that have shown what the motorcycling community is about.  WE as a community are of one mind, and that is the biker lifestyle.  We stick together and put our hand out to any and all bikers that have tragedy strike them in whatever form.  I have been riding for 36 years and I have never been in a better community than that of motorcycling.

Thank you all,
Preacher
Legislative Affairs Officer
A.B.A.T.E. Of MS

Ride With The LeadersTM by joining the MRF at http://www.mrf.org/join.php or call 1-202-546-0983

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(c)All Information contained in this release is copyrighted.  Reproduction permitted with attribution.  The Motorcycle Riders Foundation, incorporated in 1987, is a membership-based, national motorcyclists' rights organization headquartered in Washington, DC.  The first motorcyclists' rights organization to establish a full-time presence in Washington, DC, the Motorcycle Riders Foundation is the only Washington voice devoted exclusively to the street rider.  The MRF established MRFPAC in the early 1990s to advocate the election of candidates who would champion the cause of rider safety and rider freedom.

The MRF proudly claims state motorcyclists' rights organizations and the very founders of the American riders' rights movement among its leading members.  The MRF is involved in federal and state legislation and regulations, motorcycling safety education, training, and public awareness.  The MRF provides members and state motorcyclists' rights organizations with direction and information, and sponsors annual regional and national educational seminars for motorcyclists rights activists, as well as publishing a bi-monthly newsletter, THE MRF REPORTS.