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Meeting of the Minds

By Andy Kelly
The Meeting of the Minds was held in Indianapolis, Indiana, this year in a hotel down the street from the Indianapolis International Speedway. It was an old biker-style conference. The MRF lobbyist Rocky Fox had some great and uplifting information about the highway bill that’s before the Senate right now. Technically, the Surface Transportation Reauthorization Act has to be renewed every five years, but it looks like the Senate will kick the can down the road till next year and just extend the present transportation bill by one year (You might have heard it called the Transportation Bill, Invest Act, First Act, Map 21, or something else). Like any other big bill that has to be passed in Washington D.C., the bill that started off at 864 pages and an estimated cost of $494 billion has ballooned to 2,309 pages and a cost of $1.5 trillion. There were about 700 amendments that legislators tried to get into the bill, but only 227 passed the house version. The MRF got friendly legislators to put in four of those amendments, and all of them made it to the final house bill (Hardtail jokingly said it was four and a half, but Rocky modestly noted that it was four). The first of those amendments called for continuing the ban on the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration lobbying in State capitals—we definitely do not want the lobbyists from NHTSA coming to Harrisburg. Another amendment called for continuing to send safety training funds to the states, for the sole purpose of safety. The third is called “Reauthorization of the Motorcycle Advisory Council (MAC)” and is in place to secure a designated seat on the council for a motorcycle rights organization (or, better said, a Motorcycle Rights Foundation).

Now, this is where the previously debated .5 of an amendment comes in. The “Motorcycle Only Checkpoint” amendment bans federal funds from being used for motorcycle-only checkpoints. Rep. Balderson from Ohio successfully added to the motorcycle-only checkpoint amendment that states may not use federal funds to “profile and stop motorcycle operators or passengers using as a factor the apparel they are wearing or the mode of transportation”. In a sense, this is stopping any federal money from being used for profiling. In other breakout sessions, some very interesting subject matter was discussed, such as using CQ for tracking legislation at a state level. Mack Buckner gave a session on “Strategic Planning for your SMRO” which could be very helpful. Pennsylvania won an award for getting a large number of new co-signers for the profiling bill in the house for 2020. Thanks to everyone who contacted their representative in D.C. and asked them to cosponsor. Also, Lenny Young received recognition for his work with membership.

At the Banquet on Saturday night Charles Unbenhauer was inducted into the MRF Hall of Fame. Tom Detrick accepted the award for Charles.

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Updated: 5/7/09 12:00 AM