AMA News and Notes: June 2014
June 04, 2014
National and Regional News
Washington, D.C.: AMA calls for overhaul of failed Renewable Fuel Standard. The federal government's Renewable Fuel Standard is a failed strategy that must be completely reconsidered and restructured, Wayne Allard, vice president of government relations for the American Motorcyclist Association, said recently.
Allard's remarks came during the National Renewable Fuel Standard "Day of Action," organized to urge the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to maintain its proposed 2014 renewable volume obligation and for Congress to take up legislative reform that would permanently address the problems inherent in the current RFS.
Motorcyclists, environmentalists, farmers, and business leaders lobbied the EPA and key members of Congress before gathering for a press conference. Their message: America's engines, environment and food supply are endangered by the production, distribution and use of ethanol.
The AMA opposes E15 fuel (15 percent ethanol by volume) because inadvertent misfueling can cause engine and fuel system failure to the estimated 22 million motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles currently in use and can void manufacturers' warranties.
U.S. Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) has offered a number of potential solutions, including the "RFS Reform Act of 2013" (H.R. 1462).
Others participating in the event included U.S. Reps. Jim Costa (D-Calif.) and Steve Womack (R-Ark.); Justin Oldfield, of the California Cattlemen's Association; Ron O'Connor, of the HeartLands Conservancy of Illinois; and Paul Navarro, of the Pennsylvania Chapter of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
The AMA has repeatedly expressed concerns to government officials and federal lawmakers about the inadvertent use of E15. For more information, visit: www.americanmotorcyclist.com/rights/amafuelforthought.aspx.
Washington, D.C.: The Internal Revenue Service recently announced that it has postponed public hearings planned for this summer after receiving more than 150,000 comments on the proposed rule, a record response for the agency. The IRS declined to specify a timetable for issuing a final rule or reveal any proposed revisions to the rule.
Communications about legislation or public policy have never been restricted for IRS 501(c)(4) nonprofit organizations. Since the late 1950s, the IRS has allowed this class of nonprofit -- such as the AMA -- to participate in issue-based advocacy, as long as their primary focus remains social welfare.
Among other provisions, the IRS proposal would have classified as political activity any communication to the public that even mentions a political candidate within 60 days of an election.
Wayne Allard, AMA vice president for government relations, applauded the IRS decision to rewrite the rule.
"This would have created an odd situation," Allard said. "The timing of the speech would be what makes it political, not the content."
At a time when the proportion of eligible voters casting a ballot is declining, the AMA opposes any efforts to restrict access to voter registration drives, voter guides or information related to their elected representatives' voting records, Allard said.
Washington, D.C.: For the second time in five years, motorcyclist fatalities are projected to decrease, according to a report released May 6 by the Governors Highway Safety Association. Dr. James Hedlund of Highway Safety North, a former senior official with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, authored the "Spotlight on Safety" report, which projects that the motorcyclist fatality total for 2013 will be 4,610, compared to 4,957 reported in 2012.
Compared with the first nine months of 2012, motorcyclist fatalities decreased in 35 states and the District of Columbia, increased in 13 states, and remained the same in two, the report states. All 50 states and the District of Columbia provided preliminary motorcyclist fatality counts for the first nine months of 2013, according to the governors' association press release.
The GHSA reported 4,469 motorcycle fatalities in 2009, which represented a dramatic 16 percent decline from 2008.
The GHSA is a nonprofit group representing the highway safety offices of states, territories, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Its members are appointed by their governors to administer federal and state highway safety funds and to implement state highway safety plans.
Ceres, Calif.: The Ceres Police Department has purchased three Zero DS Police Motorcycles to be added to the department’s current motorcycle traffic unit fleet. The purchase of the motorcycles was 100 percent grant-funded by the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District in an effort to reduce air pollution.
The department selected the Zero brand due its reliability, low maintenance, battery range and capacity, maneuverability, and lightweight chassis, as well as economic feasibility and low impact on the environment. In addition to traffic enforcement, the motorcycles can be used in enforcement situations that require a stealthy approach, as well as for public relations and school safety patrols.
The Zero DS Police motorcycle was developed specifically for police and security agencies to be utilized to meet the daily needs and requirements of duty. Law enforcement agencies continue to be one of Zero’s fastest growing segments. The company has worked with several local police departments and university police departments as well as international agencies in Hong Kong and Columbia.
Clear Creek, Calif.: Recently the AMA testified in support of H.R. 1776, the Clear Creek National Recreation Area and Conservation Act, which would guarantee future access to the CCMA for off-highway-vehicle enthusiasts who want to visit this popular Central California riding area.
The 75,000 acres of the Clear Creek Management Area have been consistently ranked as one of the top 10 places to ride by Dirt Rider magazine and formerly hosted the Quicksilver Enduro, a nationally recognized event for over 30 years. From 1983 until 2007, the event was designated a National Enduro by the AMA.
The bill is also innovative in that it allows the BLM and state and local governments to form partnerships to enhance the recreation experience in the CCMA.
Colorado Springs, Colo.: Vandals are endangering the lives of motorcyclists and all-terrain vehicle riders in the Pike National Forest by burying spikes along trails used by off-highway vehicles and others. The spiked strips, which resemble heavy barbed wire, can cause flat tires on motorized vehicles, which could cause loss of control and result in a crash. The "booby traps” also threaten the safety of hikers and horseback riders.
One strip was found on a single-track trail in the Pike National Forest on May 5. The matter came to the attention of the AMA through AMA Life Member Jerry Abboud and the Colorado Off-Highway Vehicle Coalition.
The U.S. Forest Service issued a warning, stating that, "The device posed a significant public safety concern, and U.S. Forest Service officials are asking for assistance from the public to provide any information they may have."
"The safety of the public and our employees is our highest concern," said Laura Mark, Forest Service special agent in charge for the Rocky Mountain Region. "Anyone who has information about this is encouraged to contact the Forest Service law enforcement officials."
Mark advises individuals who find the spike strips or any other booby trap to:
- Document the location -- with latitude and longitude, if available;
- While at the site, try to report the device to the nearest Forest Service office, which can be found here: https://hrm.gdcii.com/directory/;
- Follow the Forest Service directions;
- If the Forest Service cannot be contacted, conspicuously mark the site to warn other trail users or carefully remove the device.
Individuals with information about the found booby traps are asked by the Forest Service to leave a message on the Forest Service Law Enforcement Tip Line at (303) 275-5266. A reward is being offered.
The AMA also requests that information be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include the location of the device -- a description of the device, the date of discovery and any other information deemed important or appropriate.
Garfield County and Mesa County, Colorado: Two counties have passed resolutions asserting claims to control historic roads that pass through federal lands. Local officials acted in response to a draft resource management plan filed by the Grand Junction Field Office of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management that includes a proposal to close some roads.
County officials in Colorado are concerned that roads might be closed that emergency services use for access to remote areas. Joining the counties in opposition to the proposed road closings are all-terrain-vehicle enthusiast groups, sportsmen and guide services.
County officials say that many roads within their jurisdictions existed before Colorado became a state in 1876. They are relying on federal Revised Statute 2477 for their legal claim to control.
The Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 repealed R.S. 2477, with a savings provision for rights established prior to the repeal.
According to the BLM website, the “BLM does not have the authority to make binding determinations on the validity of R.S. 2477 right-of-way claims. The BLM may, however, make informal, non-binding, administrative determinations for its own land use planning and management purposes. Such determinations must be based in the particular laws of each state in which a claimed right-of-way is situated.”
Silver Springs, Fla.: The Centennial Off-Highway Vehicle Trailhead in the Ocala National Forest officially opened April 12. The new facility is a dedicated trailhead for off-highway vehicles in the Ocala National Forest and is located near Silver Springs, Fla., on Forest Road 13.
The forest has about 215 miles of trails for motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles and other off-highway vehicles. Engineers designed the recreation area to include spacious parking for visitors with trailers to offload motorcycles.
“Working with our state partners, we were able to create a new trailhead, easily accessible by the public,” says District Ranger Mike Herrin. “This new facility will provide ample parking and accommodate trailers for offloading off-highway vehicles with plenty of space to maneuver.”
Tallahassee, Fla.: The new Springhill Motorcycle Trailhead south of Tallahassee, Fla., has recently been opened as part of the U.S. Forest Service’s policy to develop a system of roads, trails and areas designated for motor vehicle use.
The project includes a new, single-span aluminum bridge to connect the forest’s separate motorized northern and southern trails. The prefabricated 90-foot Fisher Creek Bridge, shipped in two sections, replaces an older, antiquated bridge that stretched across the waterway, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Officials at the Apalachicola National Forest saw the opportunity to create the new recreation area with a $933,900 Recreational Trails Program grant through the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. The program provides financial assistance to develop recreational trails, trailheads and trailside facilities.
The Tallahassee Trail Riders club and Red Hills Powersports of Tallahassee promoted and participated in the grand opening.
The Florida Forest Service also provided money through their T. Mark Schmidt Off-Highway Vehicle Safety and Recreation Act, which is designed to provide the public with more opportunities to ride off-highway vehicles on public lands.
Pickerington, Ohio: The AMA has launched a petition drive aimed at ending the discriminatory law-enforcement practice of setting up checkpoints that target only motorcyclists.
The AMA began tracking motorcycle-only checkpoints when they first appeared in New York in 2007, when New York State Police stopped motorcyclists traveling to and from the Americade motorcycle rally. Since then, more than $500,000 in federal funds has been spent on these traffic stops.
The AMA believes there are better ways to spend Americans' tax dollars to promote motorcycle safety.
The AMA is calling on everyone to support legislation - such as the Stop Motorcycle Checkpoint Funding Act (S. 2078 and H.R. 1861) now under consideration in Congress -- and to sign the AMA petition.
The petition provides an opportunity for motorcyclists and others to tell Washington what they think about these discriminatory, costly and ineffective motorcycle-only checkpoints.
Visit this website to add your voice to the effort to end discrimination against motorcyclists: https://cqrcengage.com/amacycle/app/sign-petition?0&engagementId=47742.
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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 email@example.com.
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