A 2022 review of the AMA Government Relations Department’s actions, and a look at what’s coming in 2023
January 11, 2023
By Joy Burgess
Protecting motorcyclists’ rights is one of the ways the AMA fulfills its mission of promoting the motorcycle lifestyle and protecting the future of motorcycling, and the AMA Government Relations Department (GRD) is a key player in that effort.
Comprised of Director Michael Sayre, Western States Representative Nick Haris, On-Highway Manager Tiffany Cipoletti, Off-Highway Manager Peter Stockus, and Grassroots Coordinator Erin Reda (all of whom ride themselves, we must add), the GRD team, along with AMA members and other motorcycling advocates, works hard day in and day out, wading through local, state and federal legislation to identify the most critical items that affect motorcyclists — and then, when necessary, takes action.
Throughout 2022, the team tackled many issues affecting riders across the country, and they’re already planning for 2023 by identifying key areas where they need to engage to protect your rights. While we’ve covered plenty of GRD news and updates in these pages throughout the past year, we’ve put together here a review of some of the significant actions, and added a look at what you need to know for 2023.
AMA Government Relations: 2022 Review
The Biden administration announced an emergency waiver allowing summertime sales of E15 in the late spring of 2022, a move the AMA strongly opposed along with thousands of AMA members who wrote the White House in opposition to the move. The White House also stated that the EPA would consider working with states to expand the availability of E15 and modify labeling at the fuel pump.
“E15 has been shown to damage carbureted and fuel-injected motorcycles, reduce gas mileage and decrease the shelf life of gasoline,” AMA Director of Government Relations Michael Sayre said. “The fact that it is illegal to use in motorcycles, and that clear labeling at the pump is not required, poses a significant risk for misfuelling.”
The AMA opposes removing or weakening labels at the pump that would leave consumers without critical information, and instead advocates for stronger labeling at the pump to ensure the potential dangers of E15 are clear.
RIGHT TO REPAIR
The AMA increased its engagement on motorcyclists’ right to repair their motorcycles, with action ramping up after the Federal Trade Commission took action against Harley-Davidson for illegally restricting customers’ right to repair their motorcycles.
“The AMA represents motorcyclists, the consumers of the motorcycle industry” Michael Sayre wrote in the October issue, “and the position we must take is clear: motorcyclists have the right to repair their own motorcycles, as well as the right to seek out an independent shop to make those repairs…”
Dozens of states have introduced Right to Repair legislation to apply the same rules that currently apply to cars to all consumer products, including both on- and off-road motorcycles. The AMA continues to support the REPAIR Act at the federal level and similar state legislation put forward, while encouraging all motorcyclists to tell their elected officials to support this type of legislation.
The AMA continues to participate in the StopDistractions.org coalition that aims to reduce distracted driving through advocacy and educational material. Currently, 48 states have distracted-driving laws on the books, and 18 other states worked to stiffen these laws during the 2022 legislative session. The AMA recognizes that distracted or inattentive driving has become a major concern to the motorcycling community and continues to engage on these legislative efforts.
In 2022, autonomous vehicles (AV) and the potential danger they and their drivers pose to motorcyclists have been hot topics within our magazine pages as the AMA’s fight to ensure the safety of semi-autonomous vehicles became more critical than ever. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) did release a proposed update to the New Car Assessment Program, but it failed to include procedures to test the performance of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) tech on cars’ ability to detect motorcyclists.
On the positive side, NHTSA did begin tracking AV and ADAS crashes, releasing that data monthly starting this past summer, giving road safety organizations a clearer idea of how widespread the problem is. NHTSA also increased its scrutiny over Tesla’s Autopilot system, upgrading their probe into the 18 incidents of Tesla vehicles striking stopped emergency vehicles.
In 2022, nine states pursued lane-filtering legislation. Arizona passed SB 1273 — with ABATE of Arizona leading the charge — resulting in the state becoming the fourth to legalize lane filtering. Utah passed HB 10, which extended the current sunset on lane filtering for an additional five years. Other than Utah and Arizona, California and Montana are the two other states that have already legalized lane filtering.
Seven states pursued motorcyclist-profiling legislation in 2022. New Hampshire became the fifth state to pass this type of legislation, preventing law enforcement officers from initiating traffic stops on the pretext of riding or wearing motorcycle apparel. The AMA continues to actively work with a group of like-minded riders in California seeking to raise the issue through a legislative resolution in the 2023 session and welcomes the opportunity to engage on this topic with other states/groups when possible.
The Inflation Reduction Act signed by President Biden not only failed to revive the electric motorcycle tax credit that expired at the end of 2021, but it also went a step further by removing the program entirely. The AMA and the motorcycle industry worked hard to prevent this, and are now engaged to revive the program entirely.
On the state level, SB 2940 passed in Illinois, ensuring electric motorcycles are now included in the state rebate program. Electric motorcycle owners are now eligible to get a $1,500 state tax rebate with the purchase of an electric motorcycle.
- AMA President and CEO Rob Dingman and AMA GRD Director Michael Sayre — along with the MIC’s Senior VP of Government Relations Scott Schloegel — met with U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg in February. That meeting gave the AMA the opportunity to discuss issues like AV/ADAS and motorcycles, getting the next Motorcyclist Advisory Committee started, Recreational Trails Program and more.
- The Hoit Road Marsh OHV ban was repealed in New Hampshire, allowing motorcyclists to ride on the ice once again.
- The AMA GRD department was invited to present at the West Virginia Trail Days legislative event, and the team spoke on the economic benefits of motorized recreation to state and federal legislators.
- The AMA worked with the Quaboag Riders Club in Monson, Mass., successfully fighting local zoning overreach to protect their annual hillclimb event.
- The AMA fought against Maryland HB77 — a bill that would have established prison time for off-highway vehicle use on-road, despite no prison time being suggested for reckless driving — and succeeded.
- The GRD team attended the National Conference of State Legislators annual conference, engaging state legislators face-to-face on the legislative issues that are most important to motorcyclists around the country.
2023 What to Watch
- The AMA will spend a lot of time in 2023 working to protect motorcycles from the dangers of ADAS vehicles, and pushing NHTSA and others to move forward on this work.
- In 2023 the GRD team will continue to address Right to Repair at the state and federal level, hopefully engaging the industry on some type of compromise between manufacturers and their consumers/independent repair shops.
- It’s expected that additional congressional efforts to expand E15 in the market will occur, and while that’s not new, the AMA will take additional action against that move, and continue its support of clearer labeling at the pump.
- According to Off-Highway Manager Peter Stockus, the AMA expects to see state legislatures across the country address the influx of outdoor recreation in the post-COVID world, and the AMA will continue to lobby for motorized trails in all recreation plans.
- The AMA plans to continue pushing for additional Recreational Trails Program funding.
- Work will continue with locals on the ground to navigate and protect motorized access with recent monument designations, such as Colorado’s Camp Hale.
- The 2023 legislative year will likely see an increase in lane-filtering legislation introduced around the country. On-Highway Manager Tiffany Cipoletti noted that “Lane filtering is gaining momentum, with more and more states inquiring about a path to introduce legislation in 2023.” Texas, Louisiana and Virginia are prepared to pursue lane filtering, and groups in Washington, Oregon, Maryland, Idaho, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Idaho are laying the foundation for a legislative push.
YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE!
While the AMA Government Relations team works tirelessly to protect the rights of motorcyclists by supporting beneficial legislation and fighting misguided, dangerous legislation, we also need your help. Making your voice heard is critical to the AMA’s efforts. Stay updated with the latest information on the big issues and learn how you can take action by signing up for action alerts at AmericanMotorcyclist.com/action-center/.
NOTE: This story first appeared in the Jan. 2023 issue of American Motorcyclist.