MRF November Update
By Andy Kelly
This year, the Meeting of the Minds Conference was held in Williamsburg, VA, just a couple of hours down Interstate 95 from Pennsylvania if that’s the route you preferred but there are so many beautiful backs roads that Bert and I prefer to take and did. There were six people in attendance from ABATE of PA. They were Mark “Radar” Mitchell, Harper and Janine Shoap, Frank Carbone, Bert Kelly, and me.
The Meeting of the Minds began on Thursday night with an introduction of the MRF board members and meet the dtates. In the “Meet the States” segment someone from each state got up in front and informed the audience of what is happening in their state.
Friday morning started with Jay Jackson, MRF Vice President, giving opening comments about the motorcycle community and the state of motorcycle safety training. Following Jay, Frank Carbone, the Treasurer for the MRF, gave a report on the current financial condition of the MRF and what is on the horizon financially for the MRF.
Megan Ekstrom, the Vice President of Government Affairs, for the MRF gave us a update on legislation on the federal level. Megan started with the profiling bill and how important it is for everyone to contact their Congressmen and Senator about this legislation and the use of CQ Engaged software used in contacting them.
With Auto Cycles, Megan stressed how important it is for states to use “Model Minimum Uniform Crash Criteria (MMUCC) provided by the US Department of Transportation. The Minimum Uniform Crash Criteria guideline is a standardized data set for describing motor vehicle crashes and the vehicles, persons and the environment involved. The guideline is designed to generate the information necessary to improve highway safety within each state and nationally.
Megan then moved on to the recognizing the protection of Motorsports Act of 2017. This bill amends the Clean Air Act to allow the modification of a vehicle’s emission controls if the vehicle is used solely for competition.
She then talked a little about the ethanol and the renewable fuels standards (RFS Act). This bill amends the Clean Air Act to revise the renewable fuel standard program. Beginning in 2017, the renewable fuel that is required to be blended into gasoline must be advanced biofuel, which cannot be ethanol derived from corn starch. This bill revises the renewable fuel standards by decreasing the total volume of renewable fuel that must be contained in gasoline sold or introduced into commerce for years 2017 through 2022. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) must determine the target amount of cellulosic (the stringy fiber of a plant rather than from the plant’s seed or fruit) biofuel to be blended into transportation fuel based on the actual volume of cellulosic biofuel produced in the current year. The EPA must reduce the required volume of renewable fuel in transportation fuel by the same volume of cellulosic biofuel in the fuel. The EPA may not allow gasoline containing greater than 10% ethanol by volume to be introduced into commerce. Waivers that allow gasoline containing a greater percentage of ethanol are nullified.
She also talked about the Motorcyclist Advisory Council (MAC) being severely underrepresented. Only one person from a motorcycle organization is presently on the board. The Federal Highway Administration did as they pleased.
In addition she spoke about Autonomous Vehicles, Senate Bill S.1885; the American Vision for safer Transportation through Advancement of Revolutionary Technologies (AV START) Act.
THE GOOD NEWS: this bill would require autonomous vehicle manufacturers to submit safety evaluation reports to the Secretary of Transportation with information addressing important factors including safety, documented testing, validation, and assessment. One of the subject areas included in this report is identification of motorcyclists. Such reports must be submitted prior to the testing or deployment of a self-driving vehicle.
ALSO IMPORTANT: the bill reinforces state and local roles ensuring that states continue to have a critical role in determining traffic laws, registration, and licensing of these vehicles. The bill also requires manufacturers to develop and execute a comprehensive written plan for identifying and reducing cyber security risks to self-driving vehicles.
THE BAD NEWS: Despite our best efforts, the section of the bill which requires a technical committee to discuss, prioritize, and make technical recommendations concerning these vehicles, leaves the determination of appointees up to the discretion of the Secretary of Transportation. We lobbied hard for a dedicated seat for a motorcycle rights organization but ultimately, the authors declined to name any specific appointees. We will continue to push for this as the bill goes through the legislative process as we try to avoid another MAC fiasco!
Things that are coming up and we need to keep an eye on is the “Road to Zero – Vision Zero”. The U.S Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Federal Highway Administration and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration are joining forces with the National Safety Council to launch the “Road to Safety Coalition” with the goal of ending fatalities on our nation’s roads within the next 30 years. Now this is just my opinion, but, if you put that many safety-crats in one room and $1 million of our tax dollars per year for the next three years we better keep a close eye on what they will come up with.
There were a lot of things discussed at the MOTM and we all had the chance to talk to freedom fighters from across the country. The one thing that came up more than once was the CQ Engaged software that the MRF purchases each year that comes with a hefty amount. This program makes it very easy for you to contact your Federal Congressmen and Senator. As it was explained to us in a breakout session, CQ Engaged gets you to first base, or opens dialog between you and your legislator. Hopefully your legislator will get back to you explaining their position and you can write them back.
Right now you can go to the MRF website, under Federal Legislative Issue and you will find three issues under the Take Action For Motorcycle Riders section. Now keep in mind there are over 5500 members in ABATE of Pennsylvania. At the time I am writing this article only 28 people from PA have contacted their legislators about the RPM Act , only 23 people contacted their legislators about the profiling bill and only SEVEN contacted their legislator about Ethanol. To show you that contacting your legislator works, Representative Mike Kelly, Representative Glenn Thompson, Representative Lou Barletta, Representative Tim Murphy, and Representative Brendan Boyle have all become co-sponsors of the RPM Act. Representative Glen “GT” Thompson is a co-sponsor of HR-318 profiling and NO legislator has signed on to be a co-sponsor of any legislation concerning ethanol. I should not have to point out the direct correlation between the amount of concerned motorcyclists contacting their legislators and co-sponsors. If you need help please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will walk you through the process. If needed, I can try to attend your chapter meeting to show everyone how to take action on the MRF website.
So what is needed is for YOU TO GET INVOLVED!!! Contact your legislators, don’t leave it up to the other person. If you are not a member of the MRF then become one. Do not think because your chapter is a member that that’s good enough, because it is not.