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Panel rejects helmet bill, endorses rock ‘n’ roll highway

March 18, 2009

Panel rejects helmet bill, endorses rock ‘n’ roll highway

For the second time, a state Senate panel rejected a proposal that would require motorcyclists in Arkansas to wear a helmet or carry $10,000 in health insurance.  

The Senate Committee on Transportation, Technology and Legislative Affairs did endorse a bill that would designate a section of U.S. 67 in Northeast Arkansas as the “Rock ’n’ Roll Highway 67” in honor of the various performers, including Elvis Presley, who traveled and performed in the area in the 1950s.

The motorcycle helmet bill, which failed to even get a motion for passage last month, got the motion this time but it failed on a voice vote.

Senate Bill 29 by Sen. Kim Hendren, R-Gravette, would require motorcyclists who don’t wear a helmet to have at least $10,000 in health insurance.

Current state law requires a motorcyclist under 21 to wear a helmet.

Hendren said his bill would not expand the current law.

“This is a freedom of choice bill,” he said. “If you choose not to wear a helmet you need to provide $10,000 in medical insurance.”

State Surgeon General Joe Thompson spoke for the bill Monday.

“I think this is an innovate new strategy to balance the rights of individuals to ride their motorcycles without their helmet while at the same time protecting each of our pocket books by requiring that they have a minimum level of insurance,” Thompson said.

Despite failing to get the necessary votes to move the bill on to the Senate, no one on the panel spoke against the bill.

The committee did recommend House Bill 1837 by Rep. J.R. Rogers, D-Walnut Ridge, which would designate U.S. 67 in Jackson, Lawrence and Randolph counties as “Rock ‘n’ Roll Highway 67.”

Rogers said the stretch of road was traveled in 1950s by numerous pioneers of Rock ‘n’ Roll, including Presley, Roy Orbison and Fats Domino. Many of the performers also played at clubs and taverns in the area.

Under the bill, the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department would put up signs marking the rock ’n’ roll highway.

Rogers said the new designation would increase economic development and tourism in that part of the state.

One Comment leave one →
  1. March 30, 2009 7:19 pm

    being in a crippling motorcycle wreck, I do agree it is somewhat safer, but it is still my right to choose. Go Arkansas!

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