Charles Umbenhauer

"It was never about the helmet, it was about choice."
—Charles Umbenhauer

Charles Umbenhauer

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politics—BIKER STYLE
Between the Lines July 2019 issue

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2019 Motorcyclists Rights Rally a Great Success

Harrisburg, PA – Thirty four straight rallies since 1985, but sadly, this is my last one.  There comes a time for all of us when you have to say, “enough”.  It has been a great ride and we accomplished our main goal when in 2003 we modified our 35 year old helmet law, thanks to Governor Ed Rendell.  We now have been riding with freedom of choice for sixteen years.  We passed many other good legislation, too many bills to mention here, but we have made Pennsylvania one of the safest and motorcycle friendly states in the country! 

This year’s rally started with a procession of motorcycles from Fort Hunter to the capitol led by the God Bless America Motorcycle Color Guard with assistance from the Harrisburg Police Department.  It appeared to me that attendance was better this year than in the past several years.  The rotunda was crowded and the rally was recorded by the PA Cable Network (PCN) and shown at 8:30 PM the evening of the rally and I have seen it a few times since then in the afternoon. 

We also received more newspaper coverage than in the past several years.  That in part was due to a new bill introduced by Representative Pam Snyder to include motorcycles in the PA Automobile Lemon Law.  That bill has already passed the House by a vote of 168- 6.  The bill is now in the Senate Consumer Protection Committee chaired by Senator Robert Tomlinson.  The good Senator appears confused on which side of this issue he should be on.  I wanted to make sure that I was right about the intent of this bill so I googled “consumer.”  I wanted to know exactly what a consumer was and according to Google it is a person who purchases goods and services for personal use.  Consumer protection is for the purchaser, not the protection of millionaire owners of motorcycle dealerships. 

In the last session ABATE accepted a number of amendments to this legislation.  Now we are being forced to pursue other avenues to gain protection for future motorcycle purchasers.  So the Senator has left us with no wiggle room on this issue.  At the Rights Rally we kicked off “Operation Peel the Lemon Law.”  The plan is to encourage PA motorcyclists who are planning to purchase a new bike to travel over the state lines and make their purchase in Maryland, New York or Ohio.  All of these surrounding states offer consumer protection to new bike purchasers. 

Believe me the motorcycle dealers won’t like losing even one sale to out of state competition.  Everyone knows that along with the sale of a new motorcycle also comes the sale of hundreds of dollars in chrome and accessories, riding apparel and future service down the road. 

I also want to thank the following Senators and Representatives that played a part in our rally.  Senator John DiSanto who welcomed everyone to Harrisburg and to the state capitol.  Senator Lisa Baker who presented the Senator Clarence Bell Scholarship to Anthony Plumley of the Pike County Chapter.  The Circle of Friends where all legislators in attendance are given the opportunity to come to the podium and introduce themselves.  Too many to count here.  And a credit to our organization that we can show such support from the legislature.  Representative Mark Keller spoke about HB 634 his bill to create a procession bill for motorcycles that are participating in charity rides the same privileges that are given to funeral processions, making the rides safer for everyone.  Representative Harry Readshaw who I have had the honor of working with for 19 years on the September Ride to Gettysburg pitched this years ride and encouraged riders to come out in support of it.  To date we have raised over $200,000 for this cause.  Senator Camera Bartolotta talked about a new bill that will fine people who blow grass clippings onto roadways creating a safety hazard for motorcycles. 

At the end of the rally we allowed chapter members to come to the podium and give contributions to BikePAC, our political action committee.  We were able to raise $18,419 for the PAC. 

Following the conclusion of the rally I led a group of members up to Senator Tomlinson’s office and delivered a personal letter asking him to bring HB 26 before his committee for consideration.  At the same time we delivered lemon’s to his office to help make the point and remind him that HB 26 is the lemon law bill for motorcycles. 

Your job now is to contact your Senator and ask them to support HB 26 and HB 634. 

Since this is the last rights rally I will be organizing I took the opportunity to thank those in attendance that have supported me for numerous years and let them know I am still going to be around until the end of 2019.