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Nebraska Lawmakers debate helmets, again

February 1, 2010

Lawmakers debate helmets, again

Nebraska lawmakers revved up their engines today for what has become a perennial debate about repealing the state’s mandatory motorcycle helmet law.

State Sen. Charlie Janssen of Fremont, who introduced the repeal measure, said the issue is about “freedom, choice and tourism.” Nebraska would join 30 other states without helmet requirements if Legislative Bill 200 passes. Those states include most of Nebraska’s neighbors.

The bill as introduced would allow people age 21 or older to ride without a helmet. Those age 16 through 20 could go without helmets if they pass a motorcycle safety course. The bill would create a new requirement for riders to wear eye protection.

Janssen offered an amendment that would limit the repeal to riders 21 or older.

He said the repeal would encourage more riders to cross the state, riders who now avoid Nebraska because they don’t want to wear helmets.

But Sen. Mike Gloor of Grand Island said the issue is about death and impairment of motorcyclists. Sen. Steve Lathrop of Omaha agreed. “It’s bad policy. We are inviting more deaths on the road and more brain injuries,” he said.

The debate is expected to continue into Tuesday and possibly beyond.

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