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MMA joins NHMRO in their fight against anti-Motorcyclist Bills

 | Published on 1/29/2010


MMA joins NHMRO in their fight against anti-Motorcyclist Bills.


Members of the Massachusetts Motorcycle Association (MMA) joined hundreds of Motorcyclists at the New Hampshire State House in Concord yesterday to join the fight against anti-Motorcyclist bills being heard by the NH House Transportation Committee.  Filed by NH Representative Judith Day, the same NH Rep who filed NH HB 95 last year, which would have required all Motorcycles to install Tachometers and OEM exhaust systems, this year’s attempts to undermine the rights of Motorcyclists included two bills – one to require all Motorcyclists to wear helmets in the “Live Free or Die” state, and the other to require all Motorcycles to have OEM exhaust systems bearing the EPA Stamp.


According to Senator Bob Letourneau, who testified against both bills, "Between 400 and 500 people showed up, all in opposition except the sponsors.”  Indeed the support was overwhelmingly against both bills, including testimony from AMA Government Affairs Manager Imre Szauter, MRF Vice President of Government Relations Jeff Hennie, NHMRO Vice President Candy Alexander, and MMA Safety & Education Director Doc D’Errico.


Also in attendance were MMA Chairman Dave Condon, Vice-Chair/Business Manager Dave Elias, and Membership Manager Cheryl Frodermann who sat prominently with representatives from NHMRO and other Motorcycle Clubs from around NH.  Chairman Condon commented that, “it’s important for the MMA to be here, not only to support our brothers and sisters from NHMRO, but on behalf of the riders of Massachusetts.  A large percentage of MMA members ride in New Hampshire and the way these laws are written, a Motorcyclist would have no way to know where one set of rules ends and another begins.  It’s critical that we offer our support while continuing to carry forth our fight for education, not legislation.”


First heard was NH HB 1261, which would require an EPA stamp on your motorcycle exhaust.  This is the same misguided attempt as filed in Boston and defeated in numerous other towns and municipalities, most famously Portland, ME last year.  The bill would essentially create the same challenges as last year’s NH HB 95, eliminating after-market exhaust, many of which are perfectly legal under current law everywhere else.


In support of the bill, emotional testimony was heard with regard to how one’s person’s rights do not extend to the violation of another’s, yet no facts were delivered.  Representative Day also presented an amendment to the Bill which would make it “enabling legislation” allowing towns to enact it as a local ordinance.  Although the amendment was accepted by the committee chair, Representative Williams, most speakers commented that it would be impossible for riders to know where a law ended and where another began.


Numerous facts were presented in opposition of the bill by the AMA, MRF, MMA, and NHMRO concerning the EPA “Title 40” regulations, specifically that the EPA stamps:


·         are targeted towards Motorcycle Manufacturers, NOT Consumers

·         are designed to protect the consumer, not be used as law enforcement tools

·         expire after an “acoustical adjustment period” of 1 year or 3,729 miles

·         are not always easily visible as covered by bike parts, heat shields, etc

·         do not mean a bike is illegal per current law


Senator Letourneau, and Representative Sherman Packard, also a committee member, the AMA, MRF, NHMRO, and MMA all spoke on behalf of responsible riding through better education, and cited current NH Law which is adequate to deal with these sound issues if adequately enforced.


The second bill heard was NH HB 1162, which challenges long-standing NH Law giving riders the freedom of helmet choice in the State of New Hampshire.


Speaking in support of the bill, Representative Day commented that the room was overshadowed in opposition by the efforts of Seacoast Harley Davidson to “send 5000 emails to rally motorcyclists” to the event.  Representative Day further commented that her impetus for this bill was being passed by a motorcyclist who violated a double yellow line and wasn’t wearing a helmet; as someone who deals with head trauma, she was concerned for the rider’s wellbeing because his reckless riding was likely to cause an accident.


As with her sound bill, Representative Day also presented an amendment to the Bill which would make it “enabling legislation” allowing towns to enact it as a local ordinance.  Again accepted by the committee chair, Senator Letourneau was the next to speak and scoffed at how riders would have to stop at every town border to determine if they had to wear a helmet or not – assuming they could determine where a rural town border was!


A representative of the NTSB also stood in support of the bill, citing NH as one of only 3 states to not have a helmet law.  The NTSB Representative obviously did not do his homework since his comment was challenged by Representative Packard as the author of NH’s 33 year-old Helmet Law.


A few speakers spoke in support of the bill, including a brave and passionately emotional plea from a Selectman whose husband was in a wheelchair as the result of head injuries from a Motorcycle Accident.  A bill co-sponsor, also from Rockingham 13, as is Representative Day, commented that he wore a helmet when racing cars as a youth.  Asked by the committee if he was also recommending helmets for cars, he responded, “no”; he understood the risks as a racecar driver and made that choice, but does support seat belts.


Apparently, the representative missed his own point that he understood the risks and made a choice.


Most speakers spoke in opposition of the law including several who have been in Motorcycle Accidents themselves.  Many commented that reckless riding by an irresponsible few is not impetus for a law and one rider stated that, “an idiot without a helmet will still be an idiot with one.”


Another rider, a US Air Force Veteran, also commented on Representatives concerns about the “5,000” emails, noting that Ms. Day apparently has an issue with local businesses encouraging citizens to speak up for their liberty.  Representative Day clearly lacks respect for the democratic process unless it aligns with her own views.


Many riders who spoke in opposition to the bill stated that they wear a helmet, but believe it’s their personal choice to wear one, and they respect the rights of those who ride without one to be able to make that choice as well.  Many spoke on behalf of NHMRO’s mantra, “let those who ride decide”.


Speaking in opposition to the bill, facts concerning the potential revenue impact to the economy were presented, drawing parallels between Laconia and the significant $100’s Million lost by the city of Myrtle Beach, SC last year.  Other facts were presented including some rebuttals to misleading facts:


·         Federal law requiring states to have a motorcycle law on the books in order to qualify for federal funds was written in 1990, but also repealed in 1995

·         NH *does* have a state Helmet Law (, which written in 1977, requires riders under the age of 18 to wear a helmet and was valid under then federal law

·         30 states (not 3) have Helmet laws allowing adults the choice.

·         According to the National Center for Health Statistics, approximately 1.16% of total U.S. Health costs are attributable to motor vehicle accidents, and the costs associated with the treatment of motorcyclist injuries account for less than 0.001% of total U.S. health care costs. Only a portion of that less-than-0.001% cost is attributable to un-helmeted motorcyclists, and the majority of that cost is paid by privately purchased health insurance.


Overall, the tone of the meeting was extremely respectful, and the NH House Transportation Committee is expected to consider the bill disposition in executive session within the next week or two.  New Hampshire’s legislative process would require the committee to render an “ought to pass” or an “inexpedient to legislate” (ITL) before passing the bill to the full House.


The MMA will continue to track these bills on behalf of our members who ride in NH.

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