MMA Update: MA Joint Committee on Transportation ­ MMA positions on several Bills heard

  
On Monday, November 9, 2015, a small contingent of your Massachusetts Motorcycle Association visited the State House to participate in a hearing held by the Joint Committee on Transportation. This hearing was called on a large number of bills, including 14 of specific interest to Motorcyclists. Testifying before the panel, 3 MMA Board members presented packets and prepared statements in favor of 11 of these bills and against 3. 
Also in attendance were current and past officers of the MMA, and members from the North Shore. 2 past MMA Board Members testified independently, but did identify themselves as past MMA Board Members. The MMA and these members are aligned on their positions and we appreciate their participation in this important aspect of our Commonwealth’s legislative process. Others in attendance did not testify, but their presence was noted by the panel. 
Although the turnout was small, the opposition to some of these bills was even smaller, albeit vocal. One bill’s petitioner was the father of a teenager who passed away 7 years ago in a motorcycle accident; the father was joined by his police chief, and blames the lack of mandatory motorcycle training on his son’s unfortunate accident. Also testifying was the daughter of a lobbyist representing the Motorcycle Industry Council, who testified in support of one MMA bill, but also in support of 2 bills the MMA opposes. 
Testifying together, the 3 members of the MMA Board present, outlined each bill, summarized the MMA position, and added supporting arguments for each. The MMA also provided each member of the Committee with a packet which contained copies of the bills and details of the MMA’s position on each bill. The MMA also asked that one Bill be amended to correct an error in wording, and that several bills be combined into one. 
It’s still not too late to be heard! All are encouraged to contact the Massachusetts Joint Committee on Transportation to let their voice be heard on any or all of these bills by writing a letter to: 
Senator Thomas McGee

Transportation Committee Senate Chairman

State House

Room 109C

Boston, MA 02133 

Phone: (617) 722-1350 

E-Mail: Thomas.McGee@masenate.gov  
Representative William Straus 

Transportation Committee House Chairman

State House 

Room 134 

Boston, MA 02133 

Phone: (617) 722-2400 

FAX: (617) 722-2387 

E-Mail: William.Straus@mahouse.gov  
Please e-mail your letter to the 2 Chairmen, but also put a copy of it in the mail so they get your original signed copy. Your MMA would also appreciate a copy. Even though the hearings have passed, discussions among the committee members will continue as they lead towards their decision. 
The MMA positions on these bills in summary follow – more details are available on http://www.MassMotorcycle.org, or by contacting LegislativeDirector@MassMotorcycle.org
BILLS SUMMARIES: 
Senate Bill 1855 (S.1855), An Act establishing a motorcycle safety fund. SUPPORT, request “Ought-to-pass” 
S.1855 filed by Senator Thomas McGee on behalf of the MMA and 22 formal co-Sponsors seeks to help Junior Motorcycle Riders get affordable “Massachusetts Rider Education Program (MREP) Basic Rider Course (BRC)” training. 
Motorcycle riders are charged an additional $2.00 annually to fund a Motorcycle Safety Fund that is supposed to be used solely for Motorcycle Safety Programs per MGL Chapter 90, Section 34 (MGL 90-34). 
MGL 90-34 actual text, “Notwithstanding the first paragraph, $2 from each motorcycle registration fee shall be paid by the registrar or by the person collecting the registration fee into the General Fund and shall be appropriated solely for the purpose of promoting and advancing motorcycle safety”. 
Only motorcycle riders pay into this fund, and now that rider training is required for junior operators (under 21), this bill helps by providing a subsidy after successful completion of the BRC. 
This Bill proposes that up to 20% of the funds collected annually into the motorcycle safety fund be used to rebate not less than $150.00 towards the BRC for riders who successfully complete the course. 
House Bill 3081 (H.3081), An Act relative to motorcycle and bicycle safety with malfunctioning traffic signals not detecting motorcycles or bicycles. SUPPORT, request “Ought-to-pass” 
Filed by Representative Tom Sannicandro and fifteen (15) co-Sponsors this Bill seeks to allow roadway users safe passage when traffic lights do not detect their presence. 
Throughout the Commonwealth, motorcyclists, bicyclists, and other roadway users find themselves “stuck” at Traffic Actuated Control Signals that do not recognize their presence, resulting in potentially dangerous situations. H.3081 creates a set of guidelines similar to “Right Turn on Red” which can create consistent behavior and safe passage should a traffic signal malfunction in the Commonwealth. 
Realizing this is a serious safety issue, numerous states have already enacted similar legislation allowing safe passage after a reasonable waiting period. 
House Bill 2973 (H.2973), An Act relative to the clarification for the definition, testing regulations, and enforcement of motorcycle sound emissions. SUPPORT, request “Ought-to-pass” 
Filed by Representative Angelo D’Emilia and sixteen (16) co-Sponsors seeks to clarify motorcycle sound emissions testing procedures. 
Massachusetts currently has two (2) different laws on the books that address Sound Emissions. 
One of the laws, MGL Chapter 90, Section 16, is completely subjective and allows Law Enforcement Officers (LEOs) much leeway when determining how loud is too loud, and when a citation is warranted. Usually the Officer states something like, “I can tell it’s too loud” as the basis of their argument, yet without an actual measurement to prove violation, the citation is vacated at cost to the Commonwealth and the Public (the rider).
The second law, MGL Chapter 90, Sections 7S, 7T, and 7U, is completely objective, and identifies objective standards with properly calibrated sound equipment. This law eliminates LEO interpretation, relies on measurable limits, and citations issued under this law are factual. 
H.2973 filed by Representative Angelo D’Emilia on behalf of the MMA is supported by 16 co-Sponsors seeks to eliminate LEO usage of the subjective MGL 90-16 in favor of the objective, controlled, and already existing, MGL 90-7S, 7T, and 7U. 
House Bill 3313 (H.3313), An Act relative to motorcycle parking. SUPPORT, request “Ought-to-pass” 
H.3313 filed jointly by Representative Shaunna O’Connell and Senator Joan Lovely on behalf of the MMA is supported by 13 co-Sponsors seeks to eliminate discrimination to motorcycle riders. 
All too often Motorcyclists are turned away from public-access parking facilities with no explanation, even though they pay taxes, are registered vehicles, and are not receiving any special benefit. Yet, this bill isn’t just about motorcycle parking, it includes language stating any highway, bridge, tunnel, public way, or transportation facility where any federal, state, or local public funds have been used to plan, design, construct, equip, operate, or maintain such facility or project, cannot discriminate against motorcycles. 
House Bill 2996 (H.2996), An Act relative to motorcycle inspections. SUPPORT, request “Ought-to-pass” 
Filed by Representative William Galvin with zero (0) co-Sponsors this Bill seeks to increase the time frame for motorcyclists to get a safety inspection to ten (10) days. 
While we’re not fundamentally opposed to the concept of the Bill, it seems to affect change to Section 1 of Chapter 90, which is the definitions section, so it seems misplaced. Also, it seems to unfairly single out motorcycles as needing more time than cars (10 days vs 7), but doesn’t explain why. 
House Bill 3011 (H.3011), An Act relative to motorcycle safety. SUPPORT, request “Ought-to-pass” 
Jointly filed by Representative Brad Hill and Senator Bruce Tarr with four (4) co-Sponsors this Bill seeks to clarify motorcycle safety training entities. 
The MMA supports the change from the Motorcycle Safety Foundation to the Massachusetts Motorcycle Rider Education Program that this Bill references. The MMA has no fundamental issues with this change, however we also note that lines MGL CH90, SEC32G 190-191 have no references to Motorcycle Safety Fund, which should actually be Motorcycle Safety Foundation. 
The MMA has proposed an amendment to the Bill’s authors to address this error. 
House Bill 2956, An Act relative to antique boats, automobiles and motorcycles. SUPPORT, request “Ought-to-pass” 
Filed by Representative Thomas Calter with nine (9) co-Sponsors this Bill seeks clarify antique vehicle definitions. The Massachusetts Motorcycle Association has no objection to this Bill. 
Senate Bill 1833, An Act to promote and advance motorcycle safety. SUPPORT, request “Ought-to-pass” 
Filed by Senator Anne Gobi with thirteen (13) co-Sponsors this Bill seeks to encourage motorcycle rider education for junior operators. 
The MMA feels that Senate Bill 1855 sponsored by Senator McGee is the correct approach based on the fact it that addresses the motorcycle operator training, the motorcycle safety fund, a rebate to junior operators who successfully pass the BRC, and actually encourages training. 
This Bill address only a portion of S.1855, which we feel is a more comprehensive approach. 
Helmet Choice Bills – The MMA notes that there is a large number of Bills promoting Adult Helmet Choice. The bill proposed by the MMA, S.2003 was not being heard due to an oversight by the clerk, but the number of similar Bills demonstrates that there is a wide and active interest in this issue. The MMA believes that these bills are fundamentally the same and could be consolidated, and that S.2003 represents the best approach to addressing this issue and was written with the best interest of motorcyclists and the Commonwealth. 
Adults in Massachusetts deserve the right to choice when they ride their motorcycles. 
House Bill 3034 (H.3034), An Act relative to helmet choice. Filed by Representative Marc Lombardo with 3 co-Sponsors, this Bill seeks to provide motorcycle riders over the age of eighteen (18) “Freedom of Choice”. 
Senate Bill 1831 (S.1831), An Act relative to standards for protective headgear for operators or passengers on motorcycles. Filed by Senator Anne Gobi with 11 co-Sponsors, this Bill seeks to provide motorcycle riders over the age of twenty-one (21) “Freedom of Choice”. 
Senate Bill 2003 (S.2003), An Act relative to standards for protective headgear for operators or passengers on motorcycles. SUPPORT, request “Ought-to-pass” 
Filed on behalf of the MMA by Senator Anne Gobi seeks to provide “Freedom of Choice” for motorcyclists. 
Providing “Freedom of Choice” for motorcycle riders in Massachusetts would be a benefit to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts by reclaiming the tourism dollars motorcyclists spend in border states. People are riding *through* Massachusetts to get to NH, ME, CT, or RI to spend their tourism dollars – this includes people from MA. If MA had “Freedom of Choice”, we believe many riders would continue to wear helmets, yet more riders would then consider MA a destination stop and spend their money in Massachusetts. 
There are approximately 250,000 motorcycle riders in MA and if only 10% of them are leaving the state to go riding, their spending of at least $50 per day in gas, food, etc., that’s $1 1?4 MILLION per day leaving Massachusetts during the riding season. That’s $1,250,000.00 each day! 
Senate Bill 1845 (S.1845), An Act relative to motorcycle noise. OPPOSED, request “Ought-not-to-pass” 
Filed by Senator Thomas Kennedy with zero (0) co-Sponsors seeks to modify existing motorcycle sound emissions standards. 
Massachusetts already has a standard for sound testing that is based on a middle RPM throttle setting (half redline). Excessive noise comes from excessive throttle. While its proponents would prefer a “lower dB” measurement, the SAE J2825 is a test at idle; an idle throttle doesn’t represent real-world situations. The MMA believes that the existing test is both real-world and effective, when used properly. The proposed testing procedure is almost identical except for the throttle setting. We believe the current test is sufficient. 
House Bill 3091 (H.3091), An Act to further regulate motorcycle exhaust sound levels. OPPOSED, request “Ought-not-to-pass” 
Filed by Representative Theodore Speliotis with zero (0) co-Sponsors seeks to modify existing motorcycle sound emissions standards. 
Massachusetts already has a standard for sound testing that is based on a middle RPM throttle setting (half redline). Excessive noise comes from excessive throttle. While its proponents would prefer a “lower dB” measurement, the SAE J2825 is a test at idle; an idle throttle doesn’t represent real-world situations. The MMA believes that the existing test is both real-world and effective, when used properly. The proposed testing procedure is almost identical except for the throttle setting. We believe the current test is sufficient. 
House Bill 3741 (H.3741), An Act relative to motorcycle permit requirements. OPPOSED, request “Ought-not-to-pass” 
Filed by Representative Ronald Mariano with zero (0) co-Sponsors seeks to tighten motorcycle permit requirements. 
The MMA is opposed to H.3741 due to the fact that MMA-sponsored legislation by Senator Brewer in a previous session, noted as “Ryan’s Law”, has already been passed and signed into law. This law requires successful completion of the MREP BRC for junior motorcycle operators to receive a Motorcycle License. Further, prior to the passage of “Ryan’s Law”, fewer than 3% of all motorcycle fatalities and accidents involved junior operators – since Ryan’s law, there are no reported fatalities in this age group that were legally riding motorcycles. Additionally, Motorcycle Training sites are reporting positive feedback and results with junior operators. 
 While on the surface, H.3741 may seem an extension of that law, it requires that junior operators obtain a class “D” license before they are eligible for a Class “M” – this would mean that these younger riders would forego the significantly beneficial awareness & defensive riding education in the BRC. To make matters worse, they would also very likely be riding unlicensed which would have the reverse effect of Ryan’s Law and increase junior operator accidents and fatalities. 
We feel that Senate Bill 1855 sponsored by Senator McGee is the correct approach based on the fact it that addresses the motorcycle operator training, the motorcycle safety fund, a rebate to junior operators who successfully pass the BRC, and actually encourages training. Requiring expensive training, a waiting period of six (6) months, and zero-tolerance for certain indiscretions, before a motorcycle permit is even issued, would be a major deterrent for junior riders and would discourage legal compliance regarding permitting and licensing.

 

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