Tag Archives: motorcycle

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A similar proposal was withdrawn from the legislative process last year.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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Bill Bans Short-Legged Motorcycle Passengers

A bill to ban children under age five from riding motorcycles has been revised to apply instead to anyone whose feet are too short to reach footpegs.
With the amendment attached, the bill was unanimously passed in the Senate on Monday night. The new misdemeanor crime would be punishable by a $50 fine with no court costs.
The change from age to footpegs as a standard was made after negotiation with motorcycle enthusiasts, according to the Maryville Republicans sponsoring SB74, Sen. Doug Overbey and Rep. Bob Ramsey.
A passenger’s ability to rest feet securely on the pegs is more of a safety concern than just age, Ramsey told a House committee earlier after negotiating the “compromise.”
Also, law enforcement officers will be able to tell at a glance whether a passenger is in violation of the law while guessing a child’s age might make enforcement difficult, he said.
The only debate on the Senate floor came when Sen. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville, asked Overbey how the law would apply to “a person doesn’t have any feet” after amputation or a “small person.”
“Frankly, that question has not come up,” replied Overbey, who went on to suggest that “we can expect law enforcement to use good common sense in the exercise of this enforcement.”
The House version has been approved by one committee, but still needs approval of the House Finance Committee.

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.

Today’s Picture: Legislators Born to Be Wild?

The folks over at TNReport are having a ‘caption contest’ for this photo of state Rep. Tony Shipley, R-Kingsport, (in the driver’s position) and Rep. Julia Hurley, R-Lenoir City, (sitting behind him with pink teddy bear in her lap) with friends at the Legislative Plaza on a day motorcyclists were visiting lawmakers.