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MRF Reports - Online
RIDING FREE FROM DC:
Your Weekly Biker Bulletin from Inside the Beltway
Your Motorcycle Riders Foundation team in Washington, D.C. is pleased to provide our members with the latest information and updates on issues that impact the freedom and safety of American street motorcyclists. Count on your MRF to keep you informed about a range of matters that are critical to the advancement of motorcycling and its associated lifestyle. Published weekly when the U.S. Congress is in session.
NEWS FROM THE HILL – ‘Well-Intentioned but Deeply Flawed’ - The House Hits Back on Ethanol You’ve Got Mail! Or so said EPA Administrator Scott’s Pruitt’s assistant this week. Sixty-four House lawmakers, led by Republican Bob Goodlatte of Virginia and Democrat Peter Welch of Vermont, slammed the Renewable Fuel Standard (aka ethanol) in a letter to Pruitt as "a well-intentioned but deeply flawed policy that has negatively impacted families and businesses" around the country. They urged EPA to factor in its "significant pitfalls and costs" in future regulatory actions. This letter stems from all the activity last week where Pruitt folded after ethanol-state Senators hinted in a very obvious way that they would obstruct votes to confirm some top EPA officials. Ultimately, Pruitt directed EPA staff to "actively explore" whether the agency has legal authority to grant a waiver allowing year-round sale of gasoline with 15 percent ethanol. No word on that outcome just yet…
To read the letter in its entirety:
EXECUTIVE & REGULATORY UPDATES – Look for the MRF Logo in the Wall Street Journal, Plus, Submit Your Comments to NHTSA and MAC Stuff
This week, your MRF was asked to sign on to a letter that would highlight the impact of the Renewable Fuel Standard or RFS. The letter will not only be sent to President Trump, but will also be run as full-page ads in the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Times after the President returns from his upcoming trip to Asia. Publication of the ad will be timed for maximum impact, in publications which the President reads.
The Motorcyclist Advisory Council is going to be the best thing since sliced bread, said no one ever. But it is moving forward, like it or not. This week I received the results from my FOIA (that’s the Freedom of Information Act) request back in September. I requested all internal government documents that dealt with the formation and selection of MAC Appointees. As suspected, there was no smoking gun, but there were some stones that will need some effort to upturn. I’ll be in touch on that. The first meeting of the MAC was also announced – it’s been scheduled for Tuesday, December 5 in Arlington, VA. Yours truly will be there, and I have asked to speak. I’ll also be circulating a sign on letter that I will ask to be entered into the record. I’d like to get as many signatures as possible so PLEASE consider signing on (and asking your friends, cousins, and neighbors to sign on too). Though I can confirm that 9 out of 10 appointees do ride motorcycles, there is only ONE seat dedicated to a motorcycle organization. The other nine can certainly speak to their individual experience riding, but are there to provide technical input. We really wanted more seats for national and state riders’ associations to bring a different perspective to the table and speak for the masses. That’s more or less what the sign on letter will say. Be on the lookout for that next week….
Give the Department of Transportation a piece of your mind. The U.S. Department of Transportation recently unveiled a document titled, “Vision for Safety 2.0” These guidelines update policies issued last fall concerning automated vehicles and discuss safety and performance rules for these types of vehicles, as well as the recommended role for state and federal policymakers. Once again, the 36-page document FAILS TO MENTION MOTORCYCLISTS in any sort of meaningful way! And what scares me? One section of the document that has to do with object detection (ya know, the part we are most concerned about) discusses some of the things autonomous vehicles need to be aware of…like pedestrians…bicyclists…animals…but apparently not riders.
Let's tell the head of NHTSA that these guidelines must be inclusive of all road users; especially motorcyclists!
You can comment by clicking here to sign a pre-drafted letter. We took the hard work out of it, so what are you waiting for??????
STATE NEWS – Pennsylvania is Kicking A** and Taking Names
This week in Pennsylvania, it was announced by Governor Wolf that there would now be expanded opportunities for Pennsylvania drivers to refuel with higher blends of ethanol, due to a federal grant that was recently secured. The Governor joined representatives from Sheetz, USDA, Growth Energy, Pennsylvania Grain Processing, at a local Sheetz to announce the grant and partnership. The $7 million grant will allow Sheetz Corporation to expand ethanol availability to 340 more fuel pumps at 77 store locations across the state. My friend and MRFer Lenny Young quickly reached out to his state officials slamming the move as only furthering special interests and calling the partnership an atrocity. You go get ‘em Lenny!
MRF NEWS & ANNOUNCEMENTS
I’ve received quite a few compliments these last few weeks from some of you, praising my writing style, biker innuendos, and solid information contained in these weekly bulletins. I try to respond to as many of you as I can, but some folks I can’t always get too. So, let me take this opportunity to say thank you – thank you for reading, thank you for commenting and most importantly, thank you for being members. These newsletters are a member perk. Meaning, if you don’t pay your dues, you don’t get the bulletin. This brings me to my next point: please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please don’t. post. this. on. a. public. forum. Not on Facebook, not on your webpage, not on any platform that will be seen publicly. Trust me when I say this has far less to do with the $$$ and EVERYTHING to do with the fact that I am very frank and sarcastic in these communications, even blasting agencies, officials and initiatives. So, when this gets put in the public eye, and those people or programs I’ve criticized or called bullsh*t on can see my comments…guess who loses their invitation to the next meeting? Yep. ME. So please, don’t share this because it has very practical effects on the work I do here in D.C. I want to keep these newsletters fun, sarcastic and edgy, but I can’t if ya’ll are just going to post it in your online newsletter or on Facebook. Are we good on this? Questions? Comments? You know how to reach me. Until then, I will keep on keeping it real.
Vice-President of Government Affairs & Public Relations
The Motorcycle Riders Foundation
About Motorcycle Riders Foundation
The Motorcycle Riders Foundation (MRF) provides leadership at the federal level for states’ motorcyclists’ rights organizations as well as motorcycle clubs and individual riders. The MRF is chiefly concerned with issues at the national and international levels that impact the freedom and safety of American street motorcyclists. The MRF is committed to being a national advocate for the advancement of motorcycling and its associated lifestyle and works in conjunction with its partners to help educate elected officials and policymakers in Washington and beyond.
All Information contained in this release is copyrighted. Reproduction permitted with attribution. Motorcycle Riders Foundation. All rights reserved. Ride With The Leaders ™ by joining the MRF at http://mrf.org/ or call (202) 546-0983 You are receiving this message because you opted in at http://mrf.org/alerts/. ; If you choose to not receive these alerts moving forward, please click the unsubscribe button or contact the office at: MRFoffice@mrf.org PLEASE DO NOT POST OR FORWARD THE WEEKLY BULLETINS.
NEWS FROM THE HILL – One Week & Several Pissing Matches Later….
The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee okayed Paul Trombino's nomination to be top dog at the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). He is going to be an important one for riders…the FHWA oversees policies that affect roadway design and other safety issues that impact our nation’s highways. His nomination vote was supposed to take place last week…but then a fight ensued between several Republican Senators and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt over the Renewable Fuel Standard…more on that in the section below.
Our anti-profiling legislation added another sponsor this week – Rep. John Katko from New York. I sat down with Rep. Katko’s Legislative Director recently. He reached out to me because the Congressman just got his endorsement and purchased a Road King. That’s right – we’ve added another Member of Congress to our “Reps Who Ride” List. The staffer told me that his boss is “ALL IN” when it comes to rider issues. And as an added bonus – he sits on the powerful Transportation & Infrastructure Committee.
EXECUTIVE & REGULATORY UPDATES – RFS Concessions to the Corn States
Last week I reported that several Senators from the nation’s corn belt threatened EPA Head Scott Pruitt over what they felt was a lack of support (FYI – threatening someone in Washington is verrrrrrry different then threatening someone in the biker world – just so ya know). And in short order, Pruitt made some concessions, to the frustration of many including yours truly. After the shakedown (again a “Washington” shakedown…not a biker shakedown) Pruitt released a letter outlining a number steps the EPA intends to take on the Renewable Fuel Standard. This includes a commitment to finalize ethanol volumes by Nov 30 at levels equal to or greater than those in the proposed rule that was recently issued AND directed EPA staff to "actively explore" whether the agency has legal authority to grant a waiver allowing year-round sale of gasoline with 15 percent ethanol. About five seconds later, President Trump’s nominees to the EPA were SHOCKINGLY (not really) given the ‘okay’ from a Senate Committee.
In other news, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao confirmed what I wrote about last week – that an attempt to overhaul the tax code is taking priority over a major infrastructure package. She spoke at an event put on by the American Trucking Association earlier this week and said, “Infrastructure will not be taken up until tax reform has been completed.” So, there you have it. Hope you took my advice and didn’t hold your breath.
STATE NEWS – Fraudulent Documents & Motorcycle Endorsements in Indiana???
From ABATE of Indiana and MRF’s own Jay Jackson:
It has come to our attention that some Indiana residents have been caught up in a scam regarding documents necessary to obtain a motorcycle endorsement. ABATE of Indiana represents all Hoosier motorcyclists and is very concerned anytime one of us is harmed.
Although we have not been given details from the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV), it appears that someone has made copies of the state form used to issue a waiver for skills test and forged the signature of a former ABATE instructor. This unlawful act of greed casts an ugly and undeserved shadow on the instructor’s reputation, as well as that of ABATE of Indiana.
We have heard a number of stories from people that have been caught up in this situation. One admitted to giving “a guy in the bar $100” in exchange for the paper. Others advise that they attended a makeshift course and spent “a couple hours riding around cones” before receiving the document. Some claim to have paid as much as $350 for this “class”.
At some point, the BMV suspected something (perhaps a large number of waivers with the same instructor, date, etc...) and began to look closer at how some folks acquired their motorcycle endorsement. If the BMV was unable to confirm that the applicant had successfully completed a legitimate rider course, they suspended not only the motorcycle endorsement, but also the operator’s license, and in some cases the Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), of the individual.
ABATE of Indiana’s rider education program began in 1979 and has had a contract with the state to provide courses every year since the inception of the state legislated program (that we lobbied to create in 1986), except 2017. This includes 2015 when we were required to sign a contract to be able to offer a waiver (for skills test) even though we received zero assistance from the state. Our students bore the entire expense in their tuition, and we had to spend about a quarter of a million dollars for motorcycles while the Bureau of Motor Vehicles chose to park hundreds of bikes outside in the snow and let them deteriorate, rather than allow us to use this equipment to train students.
Furthermore, misinformation from the BMV advised riders that the course offered by ABATE of Indiana was not valid for a waiver, when in fact, it was. This issue continued throughout the entire 2015 and 2016 training seasons, despite repeated pledges from the BMV to correct it. In 2017, inaccurate and incomplete information persists, as the BMV advises Hoosiers that “ABATE... (is) not an option”.
While the BMV’s repeated mis-information to riders is frustrating for us, the reason we provided this brief history is because it is even more frustrating to the motorcyclists of Indiana.
Up until 2015, information regarding rider courses was pretty clear and consistent. Unfortunately, there is currently a great deal of confusion confronting riders and seemingly nowhere to obtain correct, consistent, definitive answers. With 20 or so contractors offering training, and no single source for registration, it is difficult for those persons seeking training to understand what is going on and just what “is an option”.
We managed to get along for about 25 years without any sort of fraud, using a card printed on card stock in blue ink, with a watermark. We controlled the distribution of these cards from our office and limited the personnel that had access to them. The BMV introduced a new form just a few years ago that was simply black ink on white paper. We expressed concern regarding the security of this document from the beginning.
It certainly looks like there are some victims here. It sounds like some of these folks truly believed that they were participating in a legitimate training course and have now had their license suspended, significantly impacting their lives and livelihood.
If you have any information related to this situation, please reach out and contact the Indiana State Police, or call the ABATE office if you are more comfortable doing so. We want to get to the bottom of this in hopes that it may assist those that were victimized.
Ride Safe, Ride Free,
After a fairly depressing weekly bulletin, I wanted to end on a somewhat positive note?!
As you all know, the Motorcyclist Advisory Council (or MAC) has been a thorn in our side. We’re angry that they chose to only have ONE motorcycle association represented (which went to the AMA) and we are frustrated that the Council is instead made up of people who are there because of their expertise in things like roadway design, safety and construction. However, one of the people selected may in fact be one of our own. Joel Provenzano, a traffic engineering specialist from Florida, is a long-time rider and I’ve been told that he AND both of his parents are actively involved with ABATE of Florida and the motorcycle ministry. I was put into contact with Joel and he and I are going to meet in-person to discuss the MRF’s concerns and priorities regarding the MAC. We’ve also had some positive interactions with the AMA’s Mike Sayre who attended our Meeting of the Minds and who will be Chairing the MAC. With any luck, we’ll make sure our voice is heard…even if its unofficially for now.
All Information contained in this release is copyrighted. Reproduction permitted with attribution. Motorcycle Riders Foundation. All rights reserved. Ride With The Leaders ™ by joining the MRF at http://mrf.org/ or call (202) 546-0983 You are receiving this message because you opted in at http://mrf.org/alerts/. ; If you choose to not receive these alerts moving forward, please click the unsubscribe button or contact the office at:MRFoffice@mrf.org PLEASE NOTE: If you intend to forward this email, please remove the unsubscribe link at the bottom of the page.