Time for Some Common Sense
By Steve Panten 

You might need a helmet AND a seatbelt while reading this. For a few years now ABATE of Wisconsin has been working with our elected officials in Madison trying to clear up the definition of a motorcycle. While we are making calls and visiting the offices, the legislators agree that a vehicle with a steering wheel and gas and brake pedals are not a motorcycle but yet they do nothing about it (with the exception of Representative Jacque). We are taking time off from our jobs to meet with them in Madison to explain how why this topic is important and they agree with us, yet they do nothing about it.

We presented a common-sense solution to the problem and they did nothing. We provided information on how our solution would benefit the state budget and they did nothing. We offered information on how it would benefit law enforcement and they did nothing. We showed how our solution would benefit the residents of Wisconsin and they did nothing. We even offered to sit down with all parties that have an interest to derive a solution and still ... nothing.

And then today I get a draft of a piece of legislation that does the exact opposite of what we are trying to do! So you might ask ... did the bill draft author send it to us for our thoughts? NO! Did the Senate Transportation Committee Chair send it to us for our input? No ... but they did send it to Harley-Davidson for their input! I had to have it sent to me from a third party. The people that are most affected, the experts on motorcycle related topics, the people that use their valuable vacation time from work to travel to Madison to discuss topics like this, the people who elect the Legislators did not even get the courtesy of a phone call or email to discuss how we felt about this piece of legislation.

Here is what they proposed;

"343.04 (1) (e) Class M. A "Class M" vehicle is any Type 1 motorcycle, except a Type 1 motorcycle that is designed and built to have a steering wheel and foot-operated pedals for controlling acceleration and braking.

SECTION 2. 343.05 (3) (b) of the statutes is amended to read:

343.05 (3) (b) No person may operate a Type 1 motorcycle unless the person possesses a valid operator's license specifically authorizing the operation of Type 1 motorcycles. This paragraph does not apply to the operator of a Type 1 motorcycle that is designed and built to have a steering wheel and foot-operated pedals for controlling acceleration and braking."

All along we have been saying that these things are not motorcycles and yet a legislator decided to make it a motorcycle where the operator does not need a "M" endorsement to operate?

If you can drive a vehicle with a regular drivers' license why would it be considered a motorcycle and not an automobile?

How can we look at this any other way then being kicked in a very delicate region. For years our elected officials have told us that they are not going do to anything on this topic unless all parties are included.

The last meeting that we had with Polaris concluded with them saying that they are fine with status quo. And now we get this. A common statement from the legislators is that Wisconsin does not want to do anything that is more restrictive than other states. What we are proposing is to take the best parts of other states' bills and create one that will work for Wisconsin. Why is that so difficult to get on board with?

I will continue to work with our legislators to discuss how upset we are with this. Any Senator that has expressed an interest in helping us has changed their mind a few weeks later. WHY? Are they getting pressure from someone to drop it? I was thinking that it was because they had too much going on with other issues in the state and then I see this.


2018 is an election year so let's find out who our friends are before we reach the ballot box. Motorcyclists do vote and many vote to protect their lifestyle first. Know our friends. GET LOUD!

OK ... settle down Steve. What else is going on.

At the end of September we are supposed to be sitting down with General Motors to discuss our Vehicle Data Recorder (VDR) Bill. As of now I still do not have a confirmed time or location so I am still not positive that this will happen. Protecting an individual's privacy is what this bill is all about. Giving a person a voice in who can access their information about travel habits should be a priority and yet I am not seeing much progress on this. If we don't get this moving soon we may not be done before the legislature adjourns for the year next March.

Yes, the legislature is scheduled to adjourn for business next March because it is an election year so time is running out. I am hopeful that we will make progress on our ROW violation bill in the near future, but we will need a big push to make progress on anything else.

Since it will be an election year, our 2018 Lobby Day is set for January 23rd. We had to schedule it that way so we can get a final push for our agenda items. This date is before Officers' Training so we will be using our time at the Annual Meeting in Green Bay on October 8th to address where we are at and what we need to do yet. I encourage people to try to make it to Green Bay to offer input on how we should proceed. This is a fun weekend with a lot of activities planned and it is an opportunity to recognize those members that have gone above and beyond for us the past year, but on Sunday, we have work to do and you can be part of it. The Legislative Committee meets right before the Board Meeting every month and every member is a member of this committee. Anyone that is there has just as loud of a voice as everyone else and now is the time that we need to be loud. Join us and see how this committee and the Board work.

That's it ... 

Panten, Steve. "Time for Some Common Sense." ABATE of Wisconsin Newsletter Oct. 2017.

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