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LB200 CALL TO ACTION UPDATED 2/10/2010 @ 5:20 PM

February 10, 2010


PAGE LAST UPDATED 2/10/2010 @ 5:20 PM…updates in blue or red

2/10/2010 update!

Thank you … those of you who showed up today at the capital!   The show of support was greatly appreciated as we continue debate on the bill.

We need you again tomorrow if possible … as many as we can get!

Debate started today with sort of a cleaning house of the old amendments. Janssen took the floor to remove AM 1720 and replace it with AM 1796 to clarify the confusion on insurance … what they found out after canvassing insurance companies during this time since last Wednesday was that the minimum amount of coverage provided by employers etc was 1 million dollars … therefore it was agreed that anyone who currently had medical coverage were in compliance with the minimum 1 million major medical coverage that the amendment was asking for.  To that end the breakdown of am 1796 is this

It requires eye protection for all riders … no change to law there.   The amendment would require all persons under the age of 21 to wear a helmet, again no change.  What it does do is gives the rider over the age of 21 years the right to make the choice to ride a motorcycle without a helmet under 1 condition

1. that person would be required to have major medical coverage of 1 million dollars (which at this time any one with a major medical card would fall into that category) for example if you have medical coverage through your work or purchase it currently you meet the requirements you would just need to carry that card you show the doctor with you while riding without a helmet.

The amendment currently includes the sunset clause for us to prove ourselves over the next 5 years. It also would make riding without a helmet a secondary offense. In effect you could not be pulled over unless another infraction was committed.

What this amendment to the bill does not do … it does not require anyone to carry insurance … those riders who choose to wear a helmet will not be required to have an insurance card on their person.

Ok so that is AM 1796 in a nutshell, the only official amendment from Janssen to the bill … as introduced this morning.

Well of course good senator Lathrop had to rise in opposition to the bill and the amendment.  He said that mandating eyewear was the same as helmets and how could we make a distinction between the two mandates. He mentioned the hypocrisy of that. He went on to say most riders who have accidents and end up in long term care have no insurance … of course he had no data to back that statement but I digress …

Senator Gaye rose to oppose next saying how making it a secondary offense would be unenforceable and those under 21 would be riding and police would not be able to enforce … he also stated the insurance part was vague … vague? Senator …. It seems pretty straight forward to us,  you get medical coverage and are over 21 you can have the right to choose to wear a helmet.

Senator Carlson took the floor and said he had in the past wanted to support with the insurance clause, in effect stating that if it would not be a burden to him or those who did not ride for us to ride without a helmet he would support.  He stated that since the insurance wasn’t motorcycle specific that he was unsure that the pool of insurance risk was not directly on bikers themselves, basically stating that his insurance rates might rise as a consequence.

Senator Janssen took the floor to address some of the issues stating that if Senator Lathrop thought eyewear was a mandate and ambiguous he would support his bid to remove the eyewear mandate … I don’t think Senator Lathrop thought it was funny.  Janssen did get a chance to point out the actual hypocrisy of the moment and proceedings. He stated from the records that Senator Avery, in staunch opposition to the bill and helmet repeal was also the senator who when the bill came forth about ATV’s in smaller communities to require helmets for use … he was in opposition? So the same senator who is against helmet repeal … helped to repeal helmet use for ATV’s … hmmm.  Another issue that was addressed is that the Military requires helmets for active duty personnel on and off base … being ex military himself he posed the question to the body … if anyone would really want to live by military rules and regulations, if that should be the standard we go by for our personal lives … that it was an entirely separate issue …

Senator Lautenbaugh took the floor next to explain he could accept the eyewear mandate due to the affect it could have on others on the road his example being some foreign object flying up and hitting the rider in the eye could cause loss of control to the point of running into other traffic and that the helmet was a separate issue not in any way affecting others on the road.  He went on the again explain the “pool” of riders that the amount of risk involved to the public was such a small fraction and that just because we (government) provide insurance does not give us the right to regulate freedoms and that “ this is one freedom we can give back to the people “ … Thank you Senator …

Well our good Senator Lathrop felt it was time to throw out another Amendment to the bill .. his amendment proposal is to strike the secondary offense clause and thereby make riding without a helmet, without medical insurance and not over 21, a primary offense. He feels the current bill as proposed and amended would be too vague and wanted police to have the right to pull a non helmeted rider over for any reason.

Senator Campbell took the floor in opposition to lb200 and went on to say it wasn’t about the insurance … hmm.  She went on to quote statistics that we know are skewed … she stated that in 2008 19 died from motorcycle accidents and in the years before helmet repeal the numbers where higher, that on the average there were 13 more deaths each year … we know those are skewed and don’t take into account the drop in registered motorcyclists … we know that the percentages have been relatively constant.

Senator Glore took the floor in opposition to lb 200 but stated how important eyewear was and tried to relate the risks of rocks to the head causing the same issues as a rock in the eye? … he went on to say that “some of us would be hard headed enough not to wear one”  …

Senator Dierks stood up to oppose saying that personal freedoms equal to air around the face did not compare to the personal responsibility we share to others … his argument seemed to be grasping at straws … a delay maybe?

Finally Senator Christensen was able to take the floor for the bill and he had some interesting facts … he stated that last year some 207 deaths occurred from falls around the home …. If motorcycling had 20 deaths and we (as a governing body) are worried about those motorcyclists risky behavior what are we going to do about falls at home?  He went on to say it is impossible to protect us (the citizens of Nebraska) from themselves. He had the national statistics of deaths from motorcycle accidents and said 59% of those deaths were wearing a helmet … so of all states some with helmet laws and 30 states without … out of all of them 59% of all deaths were wearing a helmet … what good is that?  He said yes deaths dropped in Nebraska after the helmet law went into effect but that statistics don’t tell the whole story (sound familiar?) He said that the amount of registered motorcyclists also dropped   … He then posed the question “where do we stop”  if 207 deaths from falls and only 19 from motorcycles … where does government stop stepping in to protect citizens. “We can’t protect everyone from everything”.

Senator Whiteman went to the floor in support of the amendment to make riding without a helmet a primary offense.  He asked the question to Janssen again what percent of riders would support helmet repeal?  Janssen responded that there is no good science out there … if we (ABATE) were to take a poll it would be much different than that of MADD and he would be interested to hear who MADD polled and how they posed the question … suffice it to say Whiteman does not want to repeal the helmet law.

Senator Avery again took the floor and asked Janssen a question … if the insurance for choosing not to wear a helmet was a secondary offense … and Janssen responded that it was and no different than it was for motorists and insurance that they carry … He went on to bring up out of state riders and how they would be wards of the state … I know it’s a delay tactic and a stall but … He did pose one other question to Senator Janssen that being the sunset clause … “if wearing a helmet is such a burden to riders why terminate the law in 5 yrs?”  Janssen began to respond saying he was conceding to allow this amendment. That he felt ABATE would mobilize its safety campaigns and prove that our freedoms are important and that we would not prove to be a burden on the general public. I am certain he had more to say as Senator Avery abruptly cut him off at that point stating that Janssen was eating up his time on the floor with his response. … LOL I really don’t think Avery likes hearing about us anymore. Good or bad we have made an impression. And Thank you senator Janssen!

Well of course we had to hear from Senator Hadley who is in support of making it a primary offense for not wearing a helmet … and cautioned the body about becoming like NH … “live free or die” saying how much they had given up in highway funds for not having a seatbelt law … absolutely no idea what the relevance of that was to the debate but he got his say and burned his time.

Senator Langemeier took the floor to pose a couple of questions to Janssen again clarifying the fact that rider and passenger would fall into these rules over 21 and have insurance card in order to choose to ride without a helmet and that the card itself without any further notation was enough proof due to the fact that all meet the minimum requirement of 1 million in coverage already.

At this point it Senator Janssen was able to take the floor again and stated categorically he was not in support of any amendment that did not seek him out during this bracketed time that included am 1832 to make riding without a helmet a primary rather than a secondary offense … and restated the irony of Avery and his support of non helmeted ATV riders. He also stated that the 21 and over was not due to any difference in a rider other than a level of experience that an adult had over someone below the age of 21.  He reinforced his position that we as riders are the ones on the defensive when we ride and who are we protecting …

I have to thank Senator Fulton for his taking the floor.  He stood saying he has been opposed to the bill over the years that it has been brought to the floor but he was keeping an open mind to the issues.  He did say ABATE and others have come to him and approached the legislative process in the correct manner, that essentially we as citizens see something we wish our representatives to take a look at … and he is … He told of a “teaching moment” for him and his kids when at a parade he was asked about the Patriot Guard Riders and who they are and what they do … He felt the way we have approached him on this issue for him was also a teaching moment and we have followed the process correctly.   Good job out there ….  He stated if we can find a way to respect freedom without being a public burden he will be open to listen. He stated the problem would be if the decision of one would affect others … Senator Fulton did say he has listened to the debate intently and the amendment does mitigate some of the issue and it looks good …

Senator Lautenbaugh got a chance to speak again saying we are not really changing the minds of those senators … some are opposed some are for … that he didn’t trust the statistics as presented (as we know they can be skewed to whomever) He did make a fine point however I must mention … he said they are asking the us to justify why we should have these freedoms through insurance, age requirements etc. … he said that is wrong … he said they (as government) should be justifying why they are taking away our freedoms. He stated if we don’t give back this freedom ( to choose to ride without a helmet ) what freedoms should we trample on next?  Thank you senator a fine point indeed!

Glore went on and stated that his constituents want him to control the cost of government and that this would be against their wishes … that the insurance will be eaten up very quickly … etc …

My opinion … yes it is the same issues over and over … I would not keep going over it if I didn’t think it was important to you across the state to know who is saying what on the floor … maybe it will motivate you come election time.

Senator Lathrop, well he took the floor and said there is little to resolve the issue he will filibuster the bill he took a verbal jab at Janssen and stated he didn’t feel he had to follow any code of conduct in essence to let Senator Janssen know about his amendment … He said and I quote “ I will push till the bill is exhausted and it perishes!”   He said us as bikers never expect it to happen to us meaning we don’t expect to be the one in the accident and he is defending the mothers and family of us …. That we don’t care about the people who might be injured …

I personally was really offended that Senator Lathrop implied he cared about all of you more than I do … that I by trying to pass this bill was not giving a darn (more expletive if I could) about those brothers and sisters whom I’ve already lost wearing helmets.  The audacity of the man really blew me away.

Senator Lautenbaugh at this time proposed an amendment to the bill … with Senator Janssen’s blessing to Bracket the bill … he did this with the express intention of finding out where the votes stand on the floor … they want to know where the senators stand he is encouraging everyone who is for the bill to vote down his amendment 1796 … it appears to me it will be voted down … and that is good.

Senator Janssen went on to reiterate how he was in support of Lautenbaugh throwing it out there to get a feel for how the senators were going to vote if they vote this out then we are on track to continue … if not the bill effectively dies …

We ended the session with Avery, Gay and Harr having the final words … some talk was brought up about mapquesting out of staters … saying that mapquest would never route them through Nebraska and that the economic impact because of repeal would be negligible … I wonder how many of you out of state folk would ever use MapQuest to ride and use the function of fastest route? … LOL I personally prefer a nice highway and there are many through the state … but there again … a non rider assuming that is what we do,  ride the interstate everywhere.

So to summarize … Lb 200 is still strong heard a lot of rhetoric today again about the bill not really about the amendments. We are still behind Janssen completely his new amendment to the bill am 1796 does nothing to riders that choose to wear a helmet.  The bill and amendment merely allow for those over the age of 21 and whom carry a medical insurance card to ride in the state of Nebraska without a helmet … it also makes riding without a helmet a secondary offense…. There have been amendments thrown on the floor but Janssen or ABATE is not in favor of any of them … including bracketing the bill … this was done only to see where the vote is now … to feel out the senators. It is a strategic move … in the chess game …

What can you do? I need a huge show of support for the bill tomorrow … if I could I would fill the entire balcony with bikers … if you ever wandered what you can do for ABATE and help to repeal the helmet law … take 2hrs out of your day tomorrow and come to the capital … if nothing else take an early lunch come in at 11 … I guarantee it will be enlightening if you have never been there before … to listen to the opposition.  I have tried to paraphrase the events but I would welcome others in the balcony with me to groan when Avery gets up to say the same thing again … when Lathrop gets frustrated and spouts how he will filibuster the bill …. Etc … WE NEED YOU!

Todd C. Miller

State Coordinator, ABATE of NE Inc.

ABATE of Nebraska


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