Meeting of the Minds 2016
By Andy Kelly, MRF Rep
This year, the Meeting on the Minds (MOTM) was held in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, from Thursday September 22 through Saturday September 24. Mark “Radar” Mitchell, Bert, and I arrived earlier so I could attend both the committee and the board meetings.
At the opening of the Board Meeting MRF President, Kirk “Hardtail” Willard did the opening comments. He talked about all of the issues on the horizon that we need to watch and stay on top of. Jay Jackson, MRF Vice President, then addressed the Board and talked about motorcycle safety and the future of it and training programs.
Thursday night was the opening of the MOTM. The conference started with the introduction of the board then the State Motorcycle Rights Organization (SMRO) Activity Report. A representative then got up and gave a summary of what is going on in their individual SMRO. I am not comfortable with getting up in front of a crowd and speaking but I am proud of what we do in Pennsylvania and to tell everyone about it.
On Friday morning some of the awards were passed out. Lenny Young, me, and others, received certificates for outstanding efforts in recruiting members into the Motorcycle Riders Foundation. Pennsylvania received two plaques for 3rd place in sustaining membership and for passing “Honoring Our Vets” license Plates SB285.
At the MOTM there are always very informative and interesting general and breakout sessions, somewhat like our own L&L. I think the two most important sessions were the Report given by Megan Ekstrom, the Vice-President, Government Affairs and Public Relations for the Motorcycle Riders Foundation and the SMRO Legislative Planning and Strategy.
Megan Ekstrom is our new Lobbyist and she is undoubtedly the perfect person for the job. She has great ideas on how to bring the MRF into the 21st century and is a very experienced lobbyist.
The following are some of the SMRO legislation planning and strategies discussed. In MAP21 (Moving ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act) there was language in the bill for a Motorcycle Advisory Council (MAC) which you will be hearing about in the future. ABATE of Alaska asked the Senator from Alaska to ask about MAC and who will be on the council in a transportation Hearing with the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA). Once it is on the transcript from the hearing NHTSA has to give an answer and it may stop NHTSA from filling the seats with non motorcycle people.
In MAP 21’s upcoming reauthorization the MRF will pursue to keep the NHTSA lobby ban, to reinstate MAC, and to oppose any motorcycling related federal blackmail or federal sanctions contained in the upcoming highway bill.
One decision made at the last Governor’s Highway Safety Association (GHSA) meeting was to have a study on high visibility clothing to see if would be effective in reducing accidents. Here we go again with the safetycrats saving us from ourselves. We have to be on guard that no legislative or regulatory activities come out of this study.
In the last Highway Bill we got motorcycle only check points defunded. Now that means state or municipalities can still do check point but no federal money can be used to pay for it. The MRF will continue efforts to cut off specified use of funding for motorcycle only check points and work with SMRO’s to exchange information on passing anti-checkpoint laws in their states.
H.R. 4715, Recognizing Protection of Motorsports Act (RPM Act) is still an important piece of legislation. It would allow us to continue to make any modifications to our motorcycle performance without the EPA going after us and the manufactures of the parts. Concerning the Autocycle, NHTSA will start keeping autocycle and motorcycle crash data separate after January 17, 2017 by use of the serial numbers of the vehicle involved.
Motorcycle Profiling, H.R. 831, is a House Resolution. It is testing the waters on Capital Hill and would promote public awareness of motorcycle profiling and encourage collaboration and communication between law enforcement and the motorcycle community. It was introduced in July and has 11 co-sponsors.
The MRF and everyone should be concerned about the expansion of E-15 fuel. At this time Indian is only manufacturer that will allow E-15 fuels to be used and if your motorcycle is under warranty you run the risk of not being covered if you have an engine failure and E-15 or higher is found in your fuel system. And the reason everyone should be concerned is almost every air cooled motor can be harmed with E-15 and possibly even some older cars and trucks.
The MRF is continuing to insure the inclusion of motorcycles in all emerging technologies concerning the ITS (Intelligent Transportation Systems) and self driving cars.
There was a lot more talked about at the Meeting of the Minds and a lot of break out sessions that I could not attend. Like at our own L&L you can not be in four places at one time. To be honest with you it was hard at times to pick which session to attend because there were so many good ones.
New memberships came up many times or should I say the lack of. The strength of the MRF is in strong membership. Without strong membership the MRF cannot do what we need to do in Washington D.C.
I only wrote about the main issues happening at the Federal level and how the Safetycrats want to save us from ourselves or that’s what they want you to think.
There are so many things that can happen quickly. For example if there is a small change to Obamacare that could take away coverage if you had an accident on a motorcycle. A federal program could stop funding if the state does not change or add a law.
Please become a member of the MRF and help keep our freedoms.