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 August 2019 issue

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Governor Mike Parson Gives Missouri Bikers the Finger

A few days ago I received an urgent message from the MRF asking for letters of support for Missouri who once again had a helmet modification bill on the Governor’s desk.  I immediately responded to the Governor of Missouri and in my response I tried to inform him that PA modified their helmet law in 2003, sixteen years ago, and we have had two studies done by our state legislature to look at the effect of our new law.  All those reports did was confirm what we had been saying for many years, that modifying the helmet law would not cause an increase in motorcycle deaths on our roads.  Plus tourism by bikers who otherwise skipped PA because of the helmet law increased tourism dollars in the millions. 

If I am correct, Missouri bikers had already suffered through three veto’s by their Governors and this would be the fourth if the Governor failed to sign the bill.  While Governor Mike Parson was a member of the Missouri legislature he supported the bikers and voted yes on a few bills that would have changed their helmet law, so you would think that odds were in the bikers favor for once.  Not so.  Once again a Governor from Missouri vetoed SB 147 which would have given the long suffering bikers of Missouri freedom of choice in the use of helmets. 

I did take a look at SB 147 and found a few things that I did not agree with.  First of all SB 147 contained several amendments that did not have anything to do with motorcycle headgear.  The motorcycle headgear part of the bill should have stood alone and not have other items like the autocycle, digital driver licenses, motor vehicle registration renewals to name a few.  The motorcycle headgear amendment stated that “this act provides that persons under the age of 18 who are operating or riding as a passenger on a motorcycle shall wear a helmet when the vehicle is in motion.  We changed our bill from 18 to 21 a long time ago.  This took care of legislators that were concerned about the younger and inexperienced riders. 

The other thing I disliked about this bill was the operators who are 18 or older and operated without a helmet, had to be covered by a health insurance policy which would provide the person with medical benefits for injuries incurred as a result of a motorcycle accident.  So Missouri “the show me state” did not show me much for their treatment of the motorcyclists from the state of Missouri.  

But let this serve as a warning to my friends out there in the fine state of PA.  We have made many friends in the Legislature but if you pay any attention you know that there is constantly change in who is representing us and it is up to you to build a relationship with your Senator and Representative in your district so we can continue to do our due diligence and protect our rights as motorcyclists in PA.