News Rights

100 Years of Historic AMA Rights Wins (Part Three)

April 3, 2024 (This story appeared in the April 2024 Edition of American Motorcyclist)

By Joy Burgess

As we’ve looked back over the last few months at some of the AMA’s biggest government relations wins over the past 100 years, we’ve been reminded of clashes with some of the heavies in government…the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for one.

In the late 1970s, the non-elected bureaucracy ended up apologizing to motorcyclists for some of its actions on noise and noise standards, with AMA staff bringing other proposed and unfair EPA regulations to the attention of Congress, where the agency’s efforts died after overwhelming public and motorcyclist support.

Turns out, that was just the tip of the iceberg when it came to the good work being done by the AMA’s Government Relations Department at the time.

“The AMA Just Paid for Your Membership!”

That was the headline in an AMA advertisement near the end of 1978, which heralded the AMA’s recent victory over the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Previously, you could deduct sales tax on a car, boat or airplane, but not on your motorcycle.

The AMA was determined to change that.

American Motorcyclist reported that AMA staff was working on an initiative to get an even break for bikers. “Our discussions with the IRS have been very positive,” said AMA Legislative Analyst Gary Winn, “and they seem genuinely interested in providing an even break for the AMA member who shells out thousands of dollars for a motorcycle.”

Ultimately, the AMA succeeded, convincing the IRS to rewrite its regulations, allowing proper sales tax deductions for motorcycles.

The ad got it right, as the AMA’s success allowing the deduction of sales tax on motorcycles put money back in AMA members’ pockets…literally!

Even More Late-70s Wins

  • The AMA helped halt California’s plan to ban two-strokes.
  • The AMA stopped motor racing from being eliminated in Oregon.
  • The AMA changed Pennsylvania legislation that would have made enduros and poker runs illegal.
  • The AMA told the Department of Energy that a 10 percent gasoline allocation for motorcycles wasn’t enough. They listened and agreed to provide more.
  • After meeting with AMA staff and local members, Long Island, N.Y., opened 10,000 acres of land to ORV enthusiasts.
  • A proposed bike ban in New York City was defeated after AMA members flooded the city mayor’s and city council’s offices with letters opposing the ban.
  • The AMA and local activists fought and won against Oregon’s proposed unrealistic noise regulations.
  • Louis tried to enforce a motorcycle ban, but the AMA sought an injunction against St. Louis officials to prevent it.

Member Support Matters!

At the end of a list of GRD wins in the July 1979 issue of American Motorcyclist, the Government Relations Department said this: “We couldn’t have done it without the support of our members… Will [next year] be an equally successful year? We can do everything we have sufficient support and money to do, so our success [next year] is largely up to you.”

That may have been written nearly 45 years ago, but it remains true today: We can’t do this without you. The AMA needs your help and support more than ever. Sign up for action alerts from the AMA at