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Posts Tagged ‘ABATE’

Health_CareAs a motorcycle enthusiasts should we care about the Healthcare debate?  In a word, YES!

Looking in our rear view mirror, there is precedent for all of us to be concerned with in regards to any health care legislation coming out of Washington. For example in 1996, Congress passed the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) that was intended to ensure non-discrimination in health coverage in the group market. However, when it came to implementing the law, the Department of Labor, the Internal Revenue Service and the Health Care Financing Administration – now the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services – issued a rule allowing insurers to deny health benefits for an otherwise covered injury that results from certain types of recreational activities, such as skiing, horseback riding, snowmobiling or motorcycling. Even though many motorcycle friendly organizations (ABATE, AMA, etc.,) have fought this discriminatory rule with legislation, it’s a clear indicator of what can happen if a new health care bill is implemented by bureaucrats in Washington using biased data.

More information can be obtained HERE on injury exclusions as each state has unique implementations.  In some cases state law compliments HIPAA.

Generically speaking, the most simple answer is for motorcycle enthusiasts to oppose any legislation that may come from the new healthcare debate which restricts the freedoms of riders who enjoy an active lifestyle.  We cannot allow our elected officials to abdicate the rights of the insured to an unelected commission or board, which will render final decisions regarding appropriate medical coverage for individuals who ride motorcycles as a mode of transportation or for recreation (e.g., denial of a procedure).

If this issue resonates with you, below is a form letter to mail to your state reps for reference:

[Your Name]
[Street Address]
[City, State, Zip Code]

August 27, 2009

Note: In Oregon write to all three:

The Honorable Jeff Merkley
United States Senate
107 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510-3704

The Honorable Ron Wyden
United States Senate
223 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510-3703

The Honorable Kurt Schrader
House of Representatives
1419 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515-3705

Re: Motorcyclists Express Concern with Health Care Debate

Dear Senator [NAME]:

As a constituent and riding enthusiast, I urge you not to include anything in the various health care bills that may adversely affect my ability to ride a motorcycle.  I am opposed to any legislation that may inhibit the freedoms of riders, including myself, from enjoying an active lifestyle.

I value personal freedom and responsibility when it comes to enjoying my passion for riding. As you continue your deliberations on health care reform, please do not abdicate the rights of the insured to an unelected commission or board which will render final decisions regarding medical coverage for those of us who ride as a mode of transportation or for recreation. Please ensure that I will continue to be able to pursue my chosen recreational pursuit without the addition of unneeded prohibitions, limitations or mandates stemming from the health care legislation under consideration.

Again, I urge you to protect my freedoms from being dictated to by an unelected commission or board in determining medical coverage for individuals who ride.

Thank you for your time and consideration of this important issue.

Sincerely,
[Your Name]

We need to write our government representatives and voice our concerns regarding the various health care bills to ensure that motorcyclists can chose a recreational pursuit without the addition of unneeded limitations or mandates stemming from any health care legislation being considered.

Photo courtesy of Masscare.org

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Dee Snider of Twisted Sister

Dee Snider of Twisted Sister

Twisted Sister (“We’re Not Gonna Take It”) is an American heavy metal band known for delivering youth anthems, wearing outrageous clothes, gawdy make-up and having wild hairstyles during their performances.  One could debate that glam rock peaked in the mid-80s with MTV, yet the band has sold over 10M records and earned 35 gold and platinum records from 8 countries to date.

So, what does Twisted Sister’s front-man Dee Snider and his flamboyant costumes and the hedonistic pop/rock themes have to do with babies?  My first thought was, “This can’t be good,” but then I was contacted by Kimberly Gustafson, the Community Director (Southern Or.) for March of Dimes and it turns out that Dee is the National Bikers for Babies Spokesperson and has been a strong advocate for children!  As a father of two prematurely born children (Cody and Cheyenne) he knows first-hand about the difficulties and things that can go wrong.

BFBLogo_198x62The Bikers for Babies is an integral role for the non-profit March of Dimes in the advancement of their fund raising mission which helps “preemies” and prevents birth defects.  Last year 35K riders and 250 motorcycle clubs (including: HOG, American Gold Wing, ABATE, CMA, Iron Pigs and the Red & Blue Knights) joined together on rides across the U.S. to help raise money.  The Oregon – Bikers for Babies ride is set for August 29th with 3 start locations (Bend, Eugene & Salem) and all routes end at Hoodoo Mountain Resort (mile post 80 on Hwy 20) on Santiam Pass, OR.  Sponsors of the Oregon ride are Salem H-D, Doyles H-D (Eugene) and Cascade H-D (Bend).  This web site has registration information if want to participate.

In these economic trying times it seems that more organizations are asking for more donations, but giving is not only about money.  Giving is also doing something with your heart and time so if you have passion about health issues which effect premature babies then I encourage you to visit the web site and help your fellow bikers improve their situation.

Photos courtesy of Bikers for Babies and Vondutch Kustom Cycles site.

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FreedomThe good news is that motorcyclists in Washington State survived another year of legislative damage.  John Davis of Northwest Cycle Report provides a post mortem blog of the Washington State legislative session.  Below is a brief sample:

HB 1403 (Addressing the detection of motorcycles and bicycles at vehicle-activated traffic control signals.) got caught up in the wrangling at cutoff in the house and did not see any floor action. This could have meant that we were going to be required to wait until next year to try to get SB 5387, the companion bill for HB 1403, brought into play in the senate. The lobbyist for the Bicycle Alliance of Washington (BAW) went to work looking for a bill with traction, related to motorcycling or bicycling, that the traffic signal language could be appended to. He managed to find an innocuous (in his eyes) little technical correction bill that might work. Here is where it gets to be fun. The bill he found was SB 5482.”

“Texas” Larry Walker, the Government Relations Specialist in the Washington Road Riders Association provides the commentary and overview.  You can read more of the legislative details HERE.  I’ve found that Northwest Cycle Report goes to great lengths to provide informative and high quality information in their writing.  Check them out.

Photo courtesy WordPress Freedom theme.

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mixed_clubsRegardless of one’s stance on motorcycle clubs, rider associations, riding groups, or one-percent clubs, it’s nearly impossible to ignore the surging use of technology to reach out across the motorcycle base in the nation. In some instances, simple email proves useful for coordinating events, or the more sophisticated computer/cell/social networking/BB’s technology helps members interact and reach like-minded constituents, create grass-root initiatives and develop coordinated “calls to action.”

Such is the world of Bandido “Gimmi” Jimmy who is the National Commander for US Defenders, a grass root organization that helps educate motorcyclists on legislation strategies.  This past weekend in a capacity filled WaCoC meeting, “Gimmi Jimmy” shared learning’s and presented concepts and ideas which have obtained legislative results elsewhere in the U.S. regardless of motorcycle club discipline or background.  The Defenders program is about training constituents, developing strategies around letter writing campaigns, email campaigns, reaching out and touching (telephoning) state and national legislators and even canvassing motorcycle rally crowds who will then take that information/training back to their motorcycle clubs or riding groups to implement a motorcycle-centric “call-to-action” on biker legislation.  The Defenders program is not a Motorcycle Rights Organization (MRO) such as the TMRA, TMRA II, ABATE, AIM, MRF and the AMA, but is manageable units of Motorcycle Clubs and Independent Riders manpower.

So, what does this really mean?  Simply put, the Defenders are working cross-club i.e. Bandidos, Hells Angels, Gypsy Jokers, Mongols, independents, motorcycle riding groups/associations and women’s clubs for the improvement of motorcycling!  They are helping energize grass root initiatives and providing methods for riders to protect rider rights from legislators who think it’s okay to indiscriminately tell us what to do…telling us what to THINK can’t be far behind, right?

There are some serious issues confronting the motorcycle community beyond the routine “drum beat” of helmet laws.  For example; association rights, enhanced “affiliation” penalties, inattentive driver penalties, accident coverage, noise abatement, intellectual property rights, exhaust mandates, ordinances to eliminate rallies are just a few.  Being organized to conduct legislative business in a professional way prevents misunderstanding or being marginalized on the sidelines while others do our thinking and make decisions.

If you want to get involved with grass root initiatives attend the next regional CoC meeting in your state or contact their offices.  If you have questions concerning the US Defenders Program you can contact Defenders Lt. Commander, Companero Paul.

Photo courtesy of Jay Janner American-Statesman

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snohomish_showI’ve posted previously on the unintended consequences of aggressive police staffing at biker rallies and the Snohomish Antique and Classic Motorcycle Show is the latest Northwest victim.

Until this year the Sky Valley chapter of A.B.A.T.E paid about $5,000 for security and no other event in the city had been required to have more than two police officers present although outside agencies were used for some crowd control.  Just last September the Snohomish car show organized by the Chamber of Commerce brought in an estimated 15,000 people and only two officers were on duty before and after the event.  There were volunteer Fire Explorers and organizers were charged only $1,200.

So what is the price for a bike show in 2009 as the economy sags?  City officials wanted organizers of the motorcycle show to pay $30,360 for 44 police officers to staff this event!  Never mind there have been no major incidents in the previous 12 years of the show with an estimated 22,000 people in attendance.  The Snohomish Police Chief initially requested for 70 police officers stating a need for more officers because they are “concerned” about the potential for motorcycle gang violence.

Quick to recognize the potential political backlash the Snohomish Mayor Randy Hamlin stated at the City Council meeting the decision had to do with public safety and “It’s not to discriminate against this [motorcycle] group”.  Then why bring it up, Randy?  And why the “fear-based” discussions centered on Outlaw motorcycle groups attending the show?  Why were no business owners consulted on the police policy changes?  With no troubled past, is law enforcement being hyper-cautious or are members of the motorcycle community being sent a message?

With few alternatives and a short window to accommodate an abrupt rise in expenses the organizers cancelled the show.  Most unfortunate are donations from the show ($4000 last year) to local charities that disappear as well as the $$ the motorcycle riding public would have spent in Snohomish!

UPDATE: May 20, 2009 – thousands of bikers show up in Snohomish even with the bike show being cancelled.  So do  a lot of police…  See HeraldNet news article for more information.

Photo courtesy of event web site.

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olympia_capitalIf you’re anything like the rest of the motorcycle world, how the economy will perform in 2009 weighs heavily on your mind as well as how the legislators plan to regulate motorcycle issues.

After a successful election season the Washington State elected officials return tomorrow (January 22nd) for the new legislative session.  “Black Thursday” is the motorcycle enthusiasts opportunity to show representatives in the State Capitol that motorcyclists will stand up, be counted and work together to make a difference.

My friends over at Northwest Cycle Report have an excellent post which provides a lot more details.  You can read it HERE.   Also ABATE of Washington will be in the upper concourse by the George Washington Statue (3rd Floor) and has more information HERE.  Lastly you can watch for future legislative updates and other interesting news from the Washington Confederation of Clubs (WACoC) web site HERE.

This is a great opportunity to expand visibility of our challenges and be heard.  It will be a tough year — program cuts are already happening and we need all hands on deck to send a strong message to the Washington legislature. Please join the hundreds of motorcyclists from across Washington State for a day of lobbying to ensure motorcyclists have a voice.

No experience necessary – just a desire to make a difference.  A shout-out to “Griz” for raising visibility of the event.

Photo courtesy Flickr.

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oregon-legislatureIs a widely used reference to October 19, 1987, the day the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped a record 508 points, or nearly 23%. Disarray in the financial markets resulted from a combination of trade deficits, budget deficits, and potential government regulation of mergers and issuance of junk bonds.

My reference to Black Monday is not financial, but is in reference to the opening day of the Oregon legislative session.   

or_democratesIn a recent interview with Joe Maffei (Executive Director, BikePAC of Oregon) he hopes motorcycle enthusiasts will help raise motorcycle awareness and fill the Capitol in Salem on opening day with as many black-leather clad bikers as possible.  The goal is to meet and greet the new legislators and those who are returning to discuss the importance of two primary legislative goals during the 2009 session.

The 75th Oregon Legislative Assembly is set to reconvene on Monday, January 12, 2009. Mr. Maffei stated they are looking to first address the Vulnerable Roadway User act which will afford motorcyclists the same protections as that of other groups. The 2007 Oregon Legislature passed HB 3314, creating an enhanced penalty for careless diving if it contributes to serious physical injury or death to a “vulnerable user of a public way,” which went into effect January 1, 2008.  Prior to this law, no state had ever used the Vulnerable Roadway User concept as a legal term.  The act provides increased monetary penalties, jail sentences and educational requirements for someone that hits and injures pedestrians, bicyclists, skaters, equestrians, and even those riding some forms of farm equipment. What it does not include is motorcyclists. BikePAC and A.B.A.T.E are attempting to get this bill amended to include motorcyclists.  The political realities and difficulties will make this an uphill fight as key legislators have consistently been resistant to any effort to create new crimes and inmates for our already overburdened state court and corrections system.

or_republicansBikePAC will also be putting up a helmet bill in 2009, as usual, as these groups are holding fast on the position that helmets are a failure device. That they don’t help to prevent accidents and crashes and the best way to reduce the number of injuries is not through wearing a helmet but through rider education and motorist awareness programs. Once a helmet comes into play, many other things have already failed. Reducing these failures is the best way to reduce motorcycle crashes.

It’s safe to say that the Oregon legislators have a lot to deal with in this session and likely don’t take motorcyclists very serious and are quick to enact legislation which reduces or eliminates our freedoms. In fact, at the last opening session two years ago 23 motorcyclist showed up…there are over 200,000 motorcycle endorsements in the state!  So, this year let’s show them that they are wrong.  Independent of your views on HB 3314 or future helmet laws, motorcyclists need to let the Oregon legislators know we take our rights and our freedoms seriously. Showing them that we are indeed large in numbers, and that we are watching them, and that we have a great interest in what they are doing on our behalf is important.

See you at the Capitol on January 12th with BikePAC and A.B.A.T.E to get the word out to Oregon legislators!

More information on the House Democrats 2009 Roadmap HERE (pdf). The House Republicans Building a Better Oregon HERE (pdf).  Information on Oregon Blue Book.  More information on the Federal helmet law HERE.

 

Photo courtesy of Oregon State Legislature.

 

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