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MMA URGENT CTA: Urge your Representatives and the House Ways & Means Committee to vote NO on H.3584!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MMA URGENT CTA: Urge your Representatives and the House Ways & Means Committee to vote NO on H.3584!
16 July 2014
 
The House Ways and Means Committee is currently hearing bill H.3584, An Act relative to motorcycle permit requirements, which would mandate a Basic Rider Course prior to a junior operator obtaining a Motorcycle Permit; it would also prevent a junior operator from obtaining a Motorcycle endorsement for up to a year after obtaining a Driver’s License, essentially eliminating most junior operators as a category of rider in Massachusetts. The Massachusetts Motorcycle Association (MMA) strongly opposes this bill and asks that all riders, families, and friends, contact their State Representatives and the members of the House Ways & Means Committee, urging them to vote NO, or “ought NOT to pass” on this excessive and extraneous legislation!  Additionally, ask your Representative to push for passage of S.1677, which is a far better approach to this issue. 

Filed on behalf of a grieving father, this legislation has no basis in statistical relevance to the broader issues facing operators on the road today and really doesn’t address the real issues even for junior operators. Instead, it is an excessively emotional reaction to a sad situation that is best left in the hands of parents. 

The Massachusetts Motorcycle Association does not support H.3584.  We consider this to not only be an emotional response to a tragedy, but both excessive and extraneous.  There are 3 key points to the bill:

  1. Requiring a Junior Operator to successfully pass a Basic Rider Course PRIOR to obtaining their Motorcycle Learner’s Permit.
  2. Requires a Junior Operator to already possess a Junior Operator’s License (Class D). 
  3. Requires a Junior Operator to maintain a clean driving record for at least 6 months immediately preceding the date of application. 

First, H.3584 requires a junior operator to take the MREP Basic Rider Course (BRC) before being able to acquire a Motorcycle permit. The BRC, however, is designed as a license waiver course, meaning it’s for riders with a permit. While a permit is not required to attend a BRC, it would make more sense to invest in improvements to the motorcycle permit test which would include more motorcycle-specific content.  Also, a learner’s permit is required before attending a Driver’s Education class, which would create a discriminatory situation when dealing with motorcycle permits. Further, the BRC is already mandated by Massachusetts General Law (MGL) for a Junior Operator for licensing (Chapter 90 Section 8, proposed by the MMA and enacted in 2010). 

Second, H.3584 requires a Junior operator to have a Class D license prior to being able to acquire a M permit. That’s not a current requirement and frankly one that could create issues with younger people who perhaps can’t afford another vehicle initially. Motorcycles are an economical and convenient mode of commuting, and in some ways create better drivers. At the same time, the vast majority of applicants do have a Class D license already, in fact over 99%, making this proposal extraneous. 

Third, H.3584 requires a 6 month clean driving record prior to obtaining a permit. This affects seasonality based on birthdate of the applicant, relative cost of Driver’s Education, and in some cases availability of driver’s education, which for some potential riders could become a year or more, effectively making the “Junior Operator” a moot class of license. Yet, MGL Chapter 90 Section 8, already requires the permit and clean driving record to exist for 6 months prior to licensing, so this is again, extraneous, just not adding yet another 6 months after obtaining a Driver’s License. 

Massachusetts fatality statistics do not demonstrate a significant problem with junior motorcycle operators – in fact, the last 5-year Massachusetts Motorcycle Fatality Report, listed zero Junior Operator Licensees by age group. More often, it’s junior operators behind the wheel of a car and distracted. They’re simply not going to be texting or chatting on a cell phone while riding – it’s neither practical nor realistic. 

The bigger cause for concern here is the continued insistence on a parent’s right to be a parent.  A parent must already give permission for a Learner’s Permit to be obtained, so they should also then strongly encourage Rider Education, not have it legislated for them. The MMA’s position is that we are a strong proponent of Rider Education, and in fact the BRC teaches awareness skills that Driver’s Education does not. 

The MMA believes firmly in Education, not Legislation, but we object to legislated/mandated education which would include students who don’t want to be there (which would be disruptive to students who do), and the likelihood of increased illegal riding.

Instead, S.1677, An Act to promote and advance motorcycle safety, proposed by the MMA and which currently sits with Senate Ways and Means after hearing a “Out-to-Pass” result from the Joint Committee on Transportation, is a better choice – it makes Rider Education affordable to those that want it. Some of those funds, which come from a premium on the Motorcycle Annual Registration, could be used to advertise the Massachusetts Motorcycle Riders Education Program to prospective Motorcycle Operators. 

The current Massachusetts Legislative Session is rapidly winding down with formal sessions due to cease at the end of July! All are encouraged to contact the House Ways & Means Committee Members and formally request a "Ought NOT to Pass: recommendation from the committee so that H.3584 can be stopped. 

Please contact the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee: 

Representative Brian S. Dempsey
State House, Room 243
Boston, MA  02133 
(617) 722-2990 

All of the other 27 committee members can be found here: 

https://malegislature.gov/Committees/House/H34 

The MMA has written formal letters requesting this Ought NOT to Pass recommendation to all 28 House Ways and Means Committee Members, and to the Senate Ways and Means Committee regarding S.1677. We ask that all riders reading this to do the same!

Questions and comments should be sent to LegislativeDirector@MassMotorcycle.org and additional Legislative information can be found at: www.MassMotorcycle.org

The text for H.3584 can be found here: 

https://malegislature.gov/Bills/188/House/H3584 

The MMA’s Legislative Agenda Planning Session is currently being scheduled for October 2014.  Be a part of these decisions and voice your concerns and recommendations for the 2015-2016 Legislative Session beginning January 1, 2015. 

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