Reprinted from "Hoosier Motorcyclist" magazine, June 2009
With this being the June issue, usually we are able to wrap up the legislative session. Unfortunately, the Indiana General Assembly was unable to pass a budget for the state (the only thing they are required to do constitutionally) forcing Governor Daniels to call for a special session. It looks as though the special session will convene in mid-June. Since the state fiscal year begins July 1st, this should set the pace and force some compromises, otherwise the state shuts down on July 1st.
This session was disappointing for all Hoosiers since a number of bills of interest never really had a chance. Regardless of whether you support or oppose constitutional caps, local government reform and a host of other serious issues, they should have, at least, been heard. It is not just that a piece of legislation failed, it appears that the process failed.
We had a handful of subjects we hoped to address this session and actually had a couple of fairly solid bills. One of them got assigned to a committee where bills go to die and the other never got a hearing. We may be able to take some comfort in the fact that there are a number of folks that are much bigger and stronger (financially and in numbers) than we are, that were no more successful.
Read the second article below to learn more about how we intend to pursue our agenda.
We will continue to monitor legislation through the special session in an effort to insure that the interests of motorcyclists are properly represented. At this point, we are mostly playing defense, watching for something that could be detrimental to motorcycling.
I’m familiar with the adage “big wheels turn slow” and I also appreciate that situations are often more difficult than they appear. We ourselves have had seemingly simple projects that have taken us longer to complete than we anticipated. Sometimes there is a logical explanation, and other times it is hard to figure out just what did happen.
We have some very good friends at the Statehouse in all three branches of government, in both houses and on both sides of the aisle. There are many legislators that work very hard to “serve the people” that are as frustrated as we are. Sadly, I keep coming back to one word to describe this session, disappointing.
Ride Safe, Ride Free,
P.S. On a positive note, we are working on some fun and exciting events. ABATE of Indiana will again partner with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Red Bull Indianapolis GP, August 28-30. We will have increased responsibilities this year and are seeking volunteers to work gear check, parking, security and rider recovery. Please contact Edie at the state office for information or to be added to the list of potential workers. Additionally, we anticipate the Ride with the Governor to be in late July. Be certain to check Hoosier Motorcyclist next month or watch for details on the website.
So... What are we gonna do?
If you read the article above, you’ve got an idea about what happened with the Indiana General Assembly this session. The question now is, what are we going to do to accomplish the goals of our agenda?
We had several issues we had hoped to have addressed this session including right of way, definition of motorcycles, registration of “motorized bicycles” and cleaning up some language in current statute. While we thought we had a chance and got a pretty good start, everything just sort of fell down. Not just with our (motorcycle) bills, but with about everything.
We discussed the possibility of a summer study session to further evaluate the issues we had concern about. We made an effort late in the session to salvage things with a resolution that would establish a committee to discuss updating motorcycle language in current Indiana code. We came up empty on all attempts, despite our best efforts. As we’ve mentioned, we aren’t the only ones that suffered disappointment.
While we earlier held up the summer study last year of graduated drivers licenses as a model, as it turns out that may not have been a perfect tale of success. Nothing says that we can not get interested parties assembled and discuss this on our own. While we have been researching these subjects for a few years, perhaps we should make it a bit more formal and public.
Here comes the visit to the broken record department. We want to try to identify stakeholders, those persons or groups with an interest in these issues that affect motorcyclists, so we can formulate some well rounded ideas and possibilities. If you have opinions on any of the issues mentioned, we want to hear from you. We even intend to seek input from non-traditional partners and those that have previously had positions that differ from ours.
We also want to hear from folks that have concerns that we have not specifically identified and from persons that may be uniquely qualified or have skills that could be beneficial to these discussions. While we are open to suggestions, we probably won’t be able to include all recommendations. For instance, a law to allow unlimited speed limits to anyone riding a motorcycle has little chance of being successful.
So here’s your chance to let us know what you think. No guarantees on what the final outcome will be, but we’re listening.