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Monday Edition

MRF Weekly Washington DC Update January 15, 2015


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This is the first week back for the 114th Congress. Lots of changes with the new Republican majority in the Senate. Senator John Thune from South Dakota is the new chair of the Commerce, Science, Transportation Committee, which has jurisdiction over our issues in highway legislation. He has already told me that we should not have a problem including the checkpoint language in the bill. 

That being said, we first have to see if the Senate has the political will to craft legislation that President Obama would actually sign. 

Representative Boehner was reelected speaker by the Republicans and Representative McConnell was put in as majority leader in the Senate. One notable, and welcome, bit of retirement news: Senator Barbara Boxer from California is retiring at the end of this term. I wouldn’t be surprised if she left office earlier. It’s a long way down to the minority and with the way she treated the Republicans when they were in the minority (lets just say she did not play nice).

This week we saw a flurry of congressional activity first with H.R. 21, the ethanol study bill introduced by Congressman James Sensenbrenner. The language remains identical to that of the previous Congress.

The Senate reintroduced the stop motorcycle only mandatory checkpoints bill with the same original team of sponsors. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Ron Johnson (R-WI), both of whom spoke at last years BITB, continue to serve as the political leads of S. 127. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Susan Collins (R-ME) all joining as co-sponsors. A joint release with the AMA on S. 127 was sent out this week. It's good to be united with them on this issue. We simply do not have the resources to promote press releases as they do. They pay the AP, Facebook and several other news delivery services to push their releases to the top of google and FB searches.

I attended the swearing in ceremony for the new NHTSA administrator. Get this, they actually invited me! The new guys name is Rosekind, Mark Rosekind. He came from the NTSB where he served on the board as a sleep expert. His degree is in human fatigue. This guy literally studies people at rest. He then uses this info to find ways to eliminate distracted driving. 

I'm still not quite sure what being drowsy has to do with texting and driving. His main focus will be on improving the system for detecting when a recall is needed and to improve upon the swiftness of recall delivery. NHTSA has gotten some major hits for not recalling things fast enough, or simply not conducting a recall at all leaving hundreds of thousands of America at risk. 

I get the feeling that he will have enough on his plate and won’t come straight after motorcycles. Factor in the huge drops in fatalities in 2013, drop in alcohol related fatalities and drop in injuries and it becomes clear that he doesn’t need to really do anything extra. 

Also impressive is the fact that all of those drops were the highest in every category. Lets work to continue this trend of lower fatalities and injuries in the coming year.

--Jeff Hennie
Motorcycle Riders Foundation

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