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House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Highway Bill He

  • House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Highway Bill Hearing

    Today is an exciting day for the Motorcycle Riders Foundation (MRF) and the entire motorcycling community. At 10:00 a.m. today, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will markup H.R. 2, the “Investing in a New Vision for the Environment and Surface Transportation in America” Act (INVEST in America Act). Sometimes known as the Highway Bill or Transportation Bill, this piece of legislation must be reauthorized by Congress every four to six years. The current Highway Bill, “Fixing America’s Surface Transportation” Act, also known as the FAST Act, expires on September 30, 2020.


    The “markup” of the INVEST in America Act, is a formal process of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. This allows all of its 60 plus members to offer amendments and changes to the bill before it heads to the House floor for a final vote.   


    The Transportation Committee is the largest in Congress and usually a place where bipartisanship is the rule, not the exception. Unfortunately, as has been the case in Washington over the past few years, partisanship has infiltrated the Transportation Committee. The INVEST in America Act was written solely by the Democrats who have the majority control of the House of Representatives. This has led to an unusual situation. Today, almost 300 amendments will be considered by the committee. Most of these will be introduced by Republicans, who are using this as an opportunity to promote their policy priorities.


    As you know, we at the MRF like to say: “We don’t vote Republican, We don’t vote Democrat, We vote motorcyclist.” As today unfolds, there are four key areas, we at the MRF will be watching: 


    1. Motorcyclist Safety Funds 
    2. Motorcyclist Advisory Council 
    3.  Autonomous Vehicle Technology
    4. Motorcycle-Only Check Points / Profiling

    Here’s a brief outline of what may transpire over the next several hours in Washington DC.


    Motorcyclist Safety Funds: The INVEST in America Act as introduced would increase funds made available to states for motorcyclist safety by $1,473,285. This is an increase in the program of roughly 34% over current funding levels. Under this bill, the total amount available to states in the next fiscal year would be $5,761,785. While we at the MRF are happy to see Congress increase the funding level for state motorcyclists safety programs, this new $5.7 million amount still only equates to approximately $0.67 per motorcycle in the country. 


    Motorcyclist Advisory Council: The MRF has advocated for Gallagher Amendment #116 introduced by Congressmen Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin. This amendment would re-establish the Motorcyclist Advisory Council and create dedicated seats at the table for motorcyclists’ rights groups and manufacturers. The MAC has existed for over a decade and allows federal policymakers, state highway officials, and motorcyclists to discuss the unique demands of riding a motorcycle and how roads, bridges, and other infrastructure can be built to better account for motorcyclists’ needs.  


    Autonomous Vehicle Technology: Congressman Troy Balderson of Ohio, a rider himself, will offer Balderson Amendment #21. This two-part amendment focuses on autonomous vehicles and motorcycles. The first part requires that when the Department of Transportation conducts safety studies on autonomous vehicles, motorcycles must be considered as unique roadway users. For example, autonomous vehicle technology must account for factors like lane splitting, something unique that is only relevant to motorcycles.  The second part ensures that a motorcycle safety group is included in the Department of Transportation working group on autonomous vehicle deployment. Once again, motorcyclists need a seat at the table, so our voices are heard.


    Check Points / Profiling: The provisions passed in the FAST Act of 2015 regarding motorcycle-only checkpoints were not changed in this bill. This means that states and local governments will continue to be prohibited from using federal funds to establish motorcycle-only checkpoints. This federal provision complements the nearly 20 states who have outlawed motorcycle-only checkpoints in their states. 


    In addition to retaining the prohibition on funding motorcycle-only checkpoints, Congressman Balderson will offer amendment #25 that would prohibit using federal funds to profile and stop motorcycle operators or passengers, using as a factor, the apparel they are wearing or their mode of transportation. This amendment is consistent with our profiling resolution and would be an acknowledgment by Congress that motorcyclists should not be profiled because of what they wear or ride.


    This markup is just the first step in a long journey that still requires the Senate to act and the President’s signature. As the day progresses, we will provide short updates on what is going on and how our priorities are faring. If you wish to follow along with today’s markup, the hearing begins at 10:00 a.m. eastern, and you can watch the live stream here.


    Ride Safe and Ride Free,

    The D.C. Team

    All Information contained in this release is copyrighted. Reproduction permitted with attribution. Motorcycle Riders Foundation. All rights reserved.