Archive for March 12th, 2009

just_rideI made a commitment earlier in the year to blog more about and highlight Northwest legislative activity.  My intent is to provide illumination on issues and help give motorcyclists a “voice.”   It’s turning out that it could be a full-time job as America seems to be moving farther away from its Founders’ vision and government, but I digress.

I was checking my BlackBerry and read a story by Charles Pope in The Oregonian.  I’m positively stunned the writer and article took a conservation-group bias about public land protection.  NOT!

So, what actually transpired.  The bill — Senate Bill 22: The Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 — a bill that would have banned motorized vehicles from more than 2 Million acres of public land — failed to get the required two-thirds vote of the House members for approval. The vote was 282 yes to 144 no, with six lawmakers abstaining.  Mr. Pope reported it failed because it was “short two votes” in the house.  True enough.  But, he didn’t illuminate the fact that the bill had raised the ire of sport enthusiasts and recreational motorcyclist (AMA members and many other groups) not only because it was a package of more than 160 bills loosely coupled together to form a single bill more than 1,300 pages long, but also because it was fast-tracked through the Senate earlier this year and then positioned for a final House vote without the consideration of House members on more than 70 bills in the package.

The bill is yet another example of the recent trend in our government.   Fast-tracking bills through the legislative process without appropriate review is truly a violation of the spirit of open and democratic government.  This bill was a poor product of a poor process, and it would have cut off reasonable access for a whole host of activities on our public lands.  Much of that land is currently used for enjoyment and recreational vehicle use – responsibly!

While the debate is certainly not over, the grassroots lobbying so far has definitely helped the recreational motorcycle cause.

UPDATE: March 16, 2009 — Although the original bill, S. 22, was defeated on March 11 in the U.S. House of Representatives following Senate approval, it has been revived as part of H.R. 146, the Revolutionary War and War of 1812 Battlefield Acquisition Grant Program.

Even with the defeat of S. 22 in the House, the Senate is employing rare tactics to shove this ban through Congress.  The Senate has employed a little used parliamentary procedure to reintroduced the bill as a 1,300-page amendment to an unrelated piece of legislation for a vote as early as today.

Clearly this shows how serious Senate leaders are about removing the public debate and getting unreasonable restrictions put in place to public land access approved into law.  We must be just as vigilant in our response. Time is short.

All motorcyclists and ATV riders need to call their senators now and insist they vote no on H.R. 146.

Photo courtesy AMA.

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