Kevin Snyder


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Between the Lines June 2020 Newsletter

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Since I wrote my May article, a crazy amount of water has gone under the bridge. The term “normal” represents a place I don’t know if we’ll ever return to again.

Since the May article (written at the beginning of April), we have cancelled the Rights Rally and Hazen. I don’t know of any chapters that are having meetings. We did manage to have a Grand Board meeting via Zoom. The Pennsylvania Motorcycle Safety Program (PAMSP) was terminated by PennDOT.  That’s more than enough to worry about, so I’ll leave the broader Covid-19 issues to other authors and confine the rest of this article to its impact on A.B.A.T.E. of PA. And hope that I get some of it right.

First, the financial picture. Obviously with the loss of our projected Hazen income (and no other fundraisers in the pipeline), we face a substantial budget deficit this year.  We have enough reserves (the Lifetime Account) that we are not going to go broke right away but we are on an unsustainable path to a future we don’t have a grasp of yet. Memberships are, for now, our primary source of income. It will be up to you to determine if that will be enough to see us to the other side of this.

If there is a bright side, it is that we were able to get a PPP loan of $20,450 from the SBA. We believe we meet the forgiveness criteria for this loan program. The proceeds from this will help us keep things going for a little while longer, at least.

Second, the political picture. If you aren’t aware, the Pennsylvania Motorcycle Safety Program with Total Control was cancelled for convenience by PennDOT on April 18, 2020. So officially we no longer have a motorcycle training program. As of this writing, PennDOT has not shared their Plan B with us and we don’t believe there is one (given what we do know about how the termination went down). The term “cancelled for convenience” means that nobody actually did anything wrong, PennDOT just doesn’t like the contract any more.

Starting in 1984, the motorcyclists of Pennsylvania agreed to a surcharge (now $5) on every license and learner’s permit fee to fund a motorcycle safety training program. Those funds are kept (by statute) in a separate special fund called the “Motorcycle Safety Education Account” primarily to fund the safety program. Until 2014, we had a flourishing training program. Now, after six years of what can only be called mismanagement, we have none.

To say that A.B.A.T.E. of PA is frustrated and angry about this situation would be an understatement.

At this writing we are attempting to set up a meeting with Deputy Secretary Kurt Myers (whose department manages the PAMSP) to determine what PennDOT’s intentions are. However that turns out, you can take these three statements at face value:

1.     The days of A.B.A.T.E. of PA being a “silent partner” with PennDOT with regards to the Motorcycle Safety Education Account are over. We will obtain a full disclosure of the income and expenditures of the Account and exercise a degree of oversight that some in PennDOT may not welcome. That money belongs to the motorcyclists of Pennsylvania and they should have a greater say in how it is managed.

2.     With regard to the future of the safety program, A.B.A.T.E. of PA is the only player in the room that represents exclusively the interests of the motorcyclists of Pennsylvania. We have no other agenda, and we have no political or financial stake in the outcome.  And we have the ear of the Legislature. We will exercise whatever influence that gives us and make sure that the outcome is in the best interests of the motorcyclists in the Commonwealth.

3.     We hope to find solutions in partnership with PennDOT.  But things have gotten so bad that everything is on the table. If our efforts with PennDOT don’t work out, we will have to partner with the Legislature to achieve solution(s) that are in the interests of Pennsylvania’s motorcyclists. Given the (apparent) level of mismanagement that has occurred, it doesn’t appear that hill will be too difficult to climb.

More than that, I cannot say. I hope that our efforts with PennDOT are productive. If they are not, I hope you are ready to make your voices heard in the Legislature.