AMA News and Notes: March 2014
March 03, 2014
AMA News & Notes is a monthly publication compiled and edited by the American Motorcyclist Association Government Relations Department. Designed to inform motorcyclists of rights-related issues and events in the United States and around the world, AMA News & Notes welcomes your input. Suggestions and editorial contributions can be sent to AMA Western States Representative Nick Haris at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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National and Regional News
Washington, D.C.: When the president delivered the State of the Union speech on Tuesday, January 28, he stated that he plans to use executive orders to bypass congressional gridlock. One such measure that has been employed by presidents is the American Antiquities Act of 1906. This act gives the president the authority to declare “objects of historic or scientific interest” as national monuments. While national monuments do not necessarily ban motorized recreation, it is not uncommon for that to occur, and restricting motorized recreation in national monuments is becoming more commonplace.
The current administration has misapplied the Antiquities Act already and, by another stroke of the pen, will circumvent Congress as it pertains to the disposition of public lands. During the speech the president said, “I will use my authority to protect more of our pristine federal lands for future generations.”
The American Motorcyclist Association believes that responsible monument designations should include public input and cooperation, along with adherence to the 1906 act, which states, “the limits of which in all cases shall be confined to the smallest area compatible with proper care and management of the objects to be protected.”
While the act gives the president the authority to make designations “in his discretion,” local stakeholders and those most familiar with the land are valuable resources that should not be overlooked. This administration and all future administrations should work with congress, affected user groups and local and state elected officials before the disposition of any designations of public lands as national monuments.
Americans are a diverse group of citizens who have different yet compatible ways of enjoying the great outdoors. The AMA believes that there is room in our public lands for those who enjoy motorized recreation and advocates that the disposition of public lands should include the voices of all users.
Please join with us in asking President Barack Obama to include the insights of local stakeholders, user groups and local elected officials when designating a national monument.
Washington, D.C.: The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission has made a commitment to ensure that the 5.9 GHz bandwidth -- which supports vehicle-to-vehicle communications, or V2V -- remains free from interference that could result from expanded use of Wi-Fi in the band. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said the agency has allocated the 5.9GHz bandwidth "for the development of connected vehicle technology" in response to the Intelligent Transportation Society of America's request for a V2V spectrum. Wheeler offered his commitment in conjunction with the U.S. Dept. of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announcement that it intends to enable V2V communication technology for light vehicles.
The AMA supports the reserving of this bandwidth for the exclusive use of V2V technology to help ensure that this important safety feature is not compromised. With safety and privacy as its priorities, the AMA still has some areas of concern with the security of V2V technology. The AMA offered comments on this topic to the FCC in May 2013 and offered its support and resources to the agency on issues involving highway safety.
The NHTSA believes that V2V applications could address 80 percent of the crash scenarios that involve unimpaired drivers, especially crashes at intersections and those involving lane changes.
More information on V2V technology and its potential benefit to motorcyclists can be found at the AMA blog: http://www.americanmotorcyclist.com/blog
Washington, D.C.: The Agricultural Act of 2014 signed into law by President Obama contains a provision that helps deter distribution of E15 fuels into the U.S. marketplace. The AMA considers this farm-bill provision a major victory for the owners and riders of the estimated 22 million motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles currently in operation. Those vehicles could be damaged by the inadvertent use of E15 fuel, a gasoline formulation that contains up to 15 percent ethanol by volume. Also, use of E15 can void owners' vehicle warranties.
The Agricultural Act of 2014, which extends through 2018, prohibits the use of Rural Energy for America Program grant money to purchase and install ethanol blender pumps to dispense E15 at the retail level. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack intended to use REAP funding to install 10,000 blender pumps by 2016.
The AMA has worked since 2011 to prevent the distribution of E15 fuels, seeking independent scientific tests on their effect on motorcycle and all-terrain vehicle engines and fuel systems. After the introduction of E15 into the marketplace, the AMA fought its spread, because of concerns about inadvertent misfueling at blender pumps. Although the EPA has approved E15 use in 2001-and-newer light-duty vehicles, which include cars, light-duty trucks and medium-duty passenger vehicles, the EPA has not approved its use in any motorcycles or ATVs.
More information on the AMA's position on E15 may be found at www.americanmotorcyclist.com/rights/amafuelforthought.aspx.
Hollister, Calif.: The U.S. Bureau of Land Management has announced the reopening of the 31,000-acre Serpentine Area of Critical Environmental Concern in California's San Benito and Fresno counties to limited street-licensed vehicle use. At the same time, the BLM says, about 5,070 acres of public lands within the Clear Creek Management Area "exhibit Wilderness characteristics" and "will be managed to emphasize primitive, non-motorized recreation opportunities."
The BLM decision also means all-terrain vehicles will have access to the parts of the Clear Creek Management Area that were never closed, but were rendered inaccessible. The 75,000-acre Clear Creek area, which includes the Serpentine ACEC, was closed in 2008 after the EPA raised concerns about asbestos exposure.
Under the decision signed Feb. 11 by the California state director of the BLM, only vehicles licensed for highway use may obtain permits to enter the Serpentine area, and the BLM retains the right to limit the number of annual visitor-use days "to reduce human health risks associated with exposure to naturally occurring asbestos." Currently, the BLM is limiting vehicle touring to five days a year and pedestrian activity to 12 days a year. The BLM says it may "reassess its decisions on access and vehicle travel in the Serpentine ACEC if significant new information becomes available on human health risks from exposure to airborne asbestos fibers."
The BLM's notice marks the beginning of a 30-day appeal period for the public to challenge implementation decisions in the document. The temporary closure order for Clear Creek Management Area will remain in effect until the end of the 30-day appeal period on March 14, 2014.
Sacramento, Calif.: Assembly Bill 1646, introduced by Assemblyman Jim Frazier (D-Oakley), would require that the driver’s license exam include a test of the applicant's understanding of the distractions and dangers of handheld cellular phone use and text messaging while operating a vehicle. It would also increase the fines for illegal cell phone use to closely align with penalties from across the nation, and assign a point to drivers who continue to violate the law.
Also Assembly Bill 1835, introduced by Assembly Member Kristin Olsen (R- Modesto) would exempt an operator or passenger of a recreational off-highway vehicle from the requirement to wear a safety helmet if the person is 18 years of age or older, the recreational off-highway vehicle has been equipped with a rollbar by the manufacturer, the person is seated in a seat that has been installed by the manufacturer, and the person is wearing a seat belt.
Atlanta, Ga.: House Bill 869, sponsored by Rep. John Yates (R-Griffin), would permit lightweight vehicles such as motorcycles to proceed through an intersection controlled by a traffic-actuated signal if, after coming to a complete stop and waiting for not less than 60 seconds, the operator determines the detection system did not recognize the vehicle.
Also House Bill 1047, sponsored by Rep. Sam Moore (R-District 22), would permit motorcycle operators to lane split if the vehicle being overtaking is traveling no more than 30 mph and the motorcyclist is traveling no more than 10 mph faster than the vehicle being overtaken.
Topeka, Kan.: House Bill 2543, proposed by the House Federal and State Affairs Committee, would exempt motorcyclists from paying tolls on the Kansas Turnpike.
Jefferson City, Mo.: House Bill 1655, sponsored by Rep. Eric Burlison (R-Springfield), would authorize adult motorcycle operators and passengers the option of wearing a helmet while riding. The bill also would restrict applicants for a temporary motorcycle instruction permit to a total of three permits, for a total maximum permit period of 18 months.
Princeton, N.J.: Assembly Bill 2232, sponsored by Assemblyman John S. Wisniewski (D-Sayreville), would specifically prohibit a driver from engaging in any activity, not related to the operation of the vehicle, in a manner that interferes with the safe operation of the vehicle. Violation of this prohibition would result in a $200-$400 fine for the first offense, $400-$600 for a second offense, and $600-$800 for a third or subsequent offense. A third or subsequent violation may also result in a driver's license suspension of up to 90 days and a motor vehicle points penalty at the court's discretion.
Albany, N.Y.: Senate Bill 6456, sponsored by Sen. Catharine M. Young (R-Olean), would prohibit motorcycle passengers younger than 6 years, unless the passenger is riding in a sidecar attached to the motorcycle.
Oklahoma City, Okla.: House Bill 2459, sponsored by Rep. Mike Turner (R-Edmond), would prohibit motorcycle passengers younger than 5 years.
Providence, R. I.: House Bill 7065, sponsored by Rep. Mia A. Ackerman (D-Cumberland), would exempt the trade-in value of pickup trucks and motorcycles that are used exclusively for personal use from sales tax, as is presently available to automobiles.
Olympia, Wash.: Governor Jay Inslee has proposed to create a Blue Ribbon Parks and Outdoor Recreation Task Force, a public/private/nonprofit partnership that will develop a strategic plan and provide solid policy direction to better leverage Washington’s outdoor assets. The task force will include representatives from outdoor recreation businesses and other key industries, as well as recreation and conservation nonprofit organizations. It will also include elected officials and other opinion leaders. The group will conduct up to six listening sessions across Washington to ensure the state’s diverse range of interests is fully represented. The task force will deliver its strategic plan and recommendations to the governor in September.
Also Olympia, Wash.: House Bill 2325, sponsored by Rep. Matt Shea (R-Greenacres), would provide incentives for the use of motorcycles to reduce greenhouse gases and wear and tear on state roadways by exempting motorcycles from paying the motor vehicle weight fee.
Pickerington, Ohio: For more than 40 years, Texas racers have been competing in GNC motocross. The AMA is pleased to announce that for 2014 these events, held at Oak Hill Raceway in Decatur, Texas, will be AMA sanctioned. Kicking off with the GNC Warm Up Race on Feb. 9-10, the season hits full stride with the popular 38th Annual FMF International GNC Motocross Final presented by Dunlop, March 12-16. Online registration is available at www.gncmxracing.com.
The American International Motorcycle Expo (AIMExpo) and Yamaha Motor Corp., USA, have announced that the manufacturer has signed on as the first OEM participant of the 2014 event, scheduled for October 16-19 at Orlando’s Orange County Convention Center. Yamaha was the first OEM to commit to last year’s inaugural AIMExpo and following a successful first year, the brand is planning to expand its presence.
AIMExpo’s groundbreaking format offers exhibitors direct interaction with powersports trade, media, and consumer attendees. With a significant presence in 2013, Yamaha showcased product in the event’s innovative Media Hub in front of the large attending press contingent, while inviting consumers and members of the industry to test ride the latest Yamaha models.