Tag Archives: helmet

Motorcycle helmet bill revived in Senate committee

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A proposal that seeks to do away with Tennessee’s motorcycle helmet requirement was revived Wednesday and is advancing in the state Legislature despite concerns about how it would be enforced.

The measure sponsored by Republican Sen. Kerry Roberts of Springfield (SB925) passed the Senate Transportation Committee 5-4. Last month, the measure failed after it received a 4-4 vote. (Note: Sen. Janice Bowling, R-Tullahoma, switched her vote from no to yes on the second occasion. Sen. Jim Tracy, R-Shelbyville, who abstained the first time, voted no on the second vote.)

However, the sponsor was able to get a majority of signatures from lawmakers on the nine-member panel to place the measure back on the committee’s calendar.

Under the proposal, motorcycle riders at least 21 years old would be able to decide if they want to wear a helmet.

Roberts’ bill now goes to the Senate Finance Committee. The companion bill is awaiting a vote in the House Finance Subcommittee.

Roberts said he’s not sure if the legislation will pass this session, but he plans to talk with members of upcoming committees to see what their concerns are.

“This is a victory for the people of Tennessee who want to be able to live their lives without the government micromanaging everything they do,” Roberts said.

Tennessee Highway Patrol Col. Tracy Trott said his agency opposes the bill because it won’t allow officers to verify the age of motorcycle riders.

“It becomes a secondary violation,” Trott said. “Under the proposed legislation, we can’t stop someone just to see if they are under 21 for not wearing a helmet, so it’s difficult for us to tell the difference between a 23-year-old and a 19-year-old.”

There were about 167,000 motorcycles registered in Tennessee at the start of this year.

Motorcycle Helmet Bill Clears Senate Committee

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A proposal to do away with the state’s motorcycle helmet law passed a Senate panel on Wednesday despite Gov. Bill Haslam’s opposition.
The proposal sponsored by Republican Sen. Mike Bell of Riceville was approved 6-3 in the Senate Transportation Committee.
Thirty-one states allow riding without a helmet, Bell said.
Under his proposal, a person would be required to have $25,000 in additional medical coverage, a minimum two-year motorcycle license, have taken a motorcycle riding course, and be at least 25 years old.
The purchase of a $50 sticker to go on the helmet would also be required. Forty dollars of that would go to trauma centers.
Supporters have questioned the safety benefits of helmets and argued that ending the law would boost motorcycle tourism to Tennessee.
Opponents say not wearing a helmet will lead to more deaths and higher costs to trauma hospitals.
Sen. Todd Gardenhire testified before the committee and said his district has one of the top trauma hospitals in the state and that it would be among those affected if the proposal becomes law.
“Even with helmets on, there’s an enormous cost to the trauma centers that have to pay indigent care,” said the Chattanooga Republican, who wore a motorcycle helmet during his testimony. “And that’s just not fair.”
The measure is one of at least 22 bills Haslam has given so-called “philosophical flags,” stating that an administration representative will seek a meeting with the lawmaker for discussion.
Bell said after the vote that he’s received flag letters from the Republican governor before.
“I understand the governor doesn’t like the bill,” Bell said. “But this bill has passed the Senate at least on two prior occasions, and I expect it’s got a good chance to pass the Senate again.”
A similar proposal was withdrawn from the legislative process last year.
At the time, a legislative analysis of the measure projected that changing the law would lead to an increase in traumatic brain injuries, carrying a $1.1 million price tag for TennCare, the state’s expanded Medicaid program.

Haslam Flags 22 Bills, Including Motorcycle Helmets, Guns in Schools

Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration has officially voiced opposition to 22 bills pending in the Legislature, including measures revising the state’s motorcycle helmet law, allowing school faculty and staff to carry guns and increasing the penalty for motorists not wearing a seat belt.
The governor this year is not issuing formal “flag letters” to legislators except when there are “philosophical” objections to the measure, according to gubernatorial spokesman David Smith.
In the past, Haslam also issued “fiscal flags” against bills that called for what the governor deemed inappropriate state spending. But this year, Smith said the administration policy is to caution against any legislation that has a “fiscal note,” prepared by legislative staff, projecting a need for spending that is not part of Haslam’s budget proposal for the coming year.
“Basically, any bill with a fiscal note with at least $1 of impact on the state budget would get a fiscal flag since it’s not accounted for in the budget proposal (under prior practice),” Smith wrote in an email. “So we stopped issuing a letter because between our office issuing a letter and a non-administration bill having a fiscal note we found those efforts duplicative.”
In response to a News Sentinel request, the governor’s office provided copies of all “philosophical flag” letters that have been sent to legislators this year as of Friday. The form letters, signed by Leslie Hafner, the governor’s chief legislative liaison, do not explain reasons for opposition, but state that an administration representative will seek a meeting with the lawmaker for discussion.
“The administration understands this is an important issue to you and is cognizant of your efforts. The administration, however, respectfully disagrees with this legislation in its current form,” says a standard line in most of the letters.
Here is a list of the bills questioned by Haslam:

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Coach Bill’s Team and Fumbles on the Legislative Playing Field

Andy Sher begins a roundup report on the snags Gov. Bill Haslam has encountered in passing his legislative agenda by repeating the governor’s likening of his administration to a football team – last year spent in the locker room trying on helmets and shoulder pads; this year on the field to play.
It’s a good thing they’re wearing shoulder pads and helmets. Because even though he’s a Republican and the state House and Senate are GOP-controlled, Haslam and his team are running into their fair share of blocks, tackles and head-butts as they try to move bills.
….Haslam spokesman David Smith said that “in proposing substantive and meaningful legislation, it is not surprising that there is a lot of debate and discussion as part of the legislative process.”
Senate Speaker Pro Tempore Bo Watson, R-Hixson, said Haslam is encountering the normal checks and balances provided by the legislature.
Lawmakers respect the executive branch and the agendas that governors put forth, Watson said.
But, he added, “To think that just because he’s a Republican governor and we’re a Republican legislature, that we’re not going to do our duty as representatives of the citizens — it would be a false assumption.”

Push to Repeal Motorcycle Helmet Law Crashes Again

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Motorcyclists will have to wait another year to renew their efforts to do away with Tennessee’s helmet law.
Republican Rep. Judd Matheny of Tullahoma on Tuesday told the House Transportation Subcommittee that he’s withdrawing his bill seeking to end helmet requirements for adult riders.
Supporters question the safety benefits of helmets and argued that ending the law would boost motorcycle tourism to Tennessee.
But a legislative analysis of the measure projects that changing the law would lead to an increase in traumatic brain injuries, carrying a $1.1 million price tag for TennCare.
The state’s expanded Medicaid system spent $3.1 million to treat motorcycle accidents in the most recent budget year, including $1.8 million on brain injuries.

TN Political News, Briefly Noted

No Helmet Notions
The Tennessean has a story on the annual crusade for repeal of the state law requiring motorcyclists to wear helmets.
The Motorcyclist Liberty Restoration Act currently before the Tennessee legislature would put an end to the helmet requirement for motorcycle riders 21 and older. Even though no state has repealed a helmet law since Pennsylvania did it in 2003, the rising popularity of libertarian ideas gives the anti-helmet movement a boost. Medical associations in the state are keeping a close watch on the legislation, which will be discussed Tuesday during a noon hearing before the House transportation subcommittee.
Haslam Q&A
Jeff Woods has put together a partial transcript of questions and answers at Gov. Bill Haslam’s media availability last week.
‘Stupid’ Councilman’s Political Future
Gail Kerr opines that Metro Councilman Brady Banks “plain stupid” to get arrested in a prostitution sting…. but that doesn’t necessarily mean his political career is over.
Just Sayin’
Brandon Puttbrese, quoted in the City Paper, on the Republican presidential nominee’s prospects of carrying Tennessee this fall.
“I’m not pretending that Tennessee is going to go for Obama, but I think it’s going to be much tougher in 2012 than it was in 2008,” Puttbrese said.
ECD Comish Stumps for Romney
Bill Hagerty, Tennessee Commissioner of Economic and Community Development, is scheduled to speak at a regional rally for presidential hopeful Mitt Romney late today, reports Georgiana Vines.

Latest Attempt to Repeal Motorcycle Helmet Law Fails

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The latest effort to rescind Tennessee’s motorcycle helmet law for adult riders has failed for the year.
Republican Sen. Mike Bell of Riceville asked the Senate Transportation Committee on Wednesday to place his measure on the panel’s first calendar of next year’s legislative session.
The House had previously sent the companion bill to a summer study committee.
Supporters argue that doing away with the helmet law could boost tourism in the state, but opponents point to the increased cost of treating head injuries for helmetless riders.