The Most Important Day of the Year
By Steve Panten 

February 23,rd will the most important day for motorcyclist in Wisconsin for all of 2017. That is when motorcyclist will head to Madison for the annual Motorcyclists' Grassroots Lobby Day. The day when we get the attention on the State Legislators to discuss the issues that are important to motorcyclists. "The world is run by those that show up" is never more true than in politics for making rules. Motorcyclists need to be at the table when rules are being written to ensure that our interests are protected and it all starts at our Lobby Day on the 23rd.

ABATE will be providing free bus rides for anyone that is available to join us (you don't have to be an ABATE member, just need to have the interests). Some meetings have already been scheduled and many of those are group meetings with one Senator and all three Assemblymen in a particular area. This is a great way to give the same message to everyone in Madison. Marlene has created a site so we can track who has meetings scheduled and reported to the ABATE state office. Please check out http://tinyurl.com/abate2017 to see who has meetings scheduled and when. If you see that your representative does not have a meeting listed, please contact them and set something up. Once you have your meeting set up let Marlene know so she can include it on this list. This will be valuable for us to track who has something scheduled and who we still need to reach out to. ABATE of Wisconsin and the motorcyclists in Wisconsin future success begins with this day. Please make every attempt to join us in Madison. If you are not comfortable with talking to your representative just join a meeting that is already scheduled or let us know and we will have someone available to go with you. It is very important that we touch every member in the legislature and that we all present the same message so that we can create a positive environment for motorcycling in Wisconsin.

This year we are bringing back some topics that we had last year but we also discovered some new fights that we need to get behind, so the list is ever-changing. Here is what we will bring to discuss:

ROW Violations -- LRB-0662/P1: We had this at Lobby Day last year but we discovered that we needed to make some changes to get it passed. We included roughly 23 more violations that were not previously considered ROW violations but should be. This included things like causing injury or death by; running a red light, driving left of center or by making a u-turn. Before this bill draft those were not treated the same as statutes covered under 346.18 so causing injury or even killing another person often resulted in just an $83 ticket. We also removed the automatic license suspension portion for violations that result in bodily injury and now the suspension will only happen if the violator does not complete a Drivers Awareness Training Class within a 6 month time period. This change will be for any violation that does not result in great bodily harm or death, in those 2 cases the automatic suspension will remain in effect.

We have a bill draft for this change and Representative Brandtjen will take the lead in the Assembly but we will be looking for a Lead in the Senate, and we will be looking for everyone else to sign on as a co-sponsor so we can get enough support to move this piece of legislation

Black box: As of the moment that I am writing this article, we have a commitment from Senator Stroebel to take the lead on reintroducing this bill in the Senate and Representative Kremer is interested in taking the lead in the Assembly as well. Last Year Representative Quinn helped to push the Assembly version and, while he is interested in helping us again, he will need to wait to see which committee it will be sent to before he commits on being a lead author. He said that he will support it but just may not be able to be a lead sponsor for it if it ends up in the committee that he chairs. I would like to thank him for his help last year. He and his staff were very helpful and I look forward to working with them in the future. Before Lobby Day we will have met with the Automobile Manufacturers to try to work out the issues that they brought up last year. Hopefully before Lobby Day we will have the final language all hashed out.

AUTOCYCLE: We will most likely not have any pending legislation for this item but we will be including it in our talking points. As long as Polaris is happy with status quo and not willing to work on a solution, we will not have a bill. We would like to give Autocycle dealers the opportunity to sell them to any driver with a regular driver's license instead of requiring a motorcycle endorsement but if that were to happen, we are asking that they not have a motorcycle license plate. Seems simple right?? If the motorcycle training classes do not offer training on how to operate this type of vehicle (since you learned it in drivers ed) why is the "M" endorsement needed? But if a vehicle has a steering wheel, gas and brake pedals, seatbelts and a cup holder and does not require a motorcycle endorsement, why does it have a motorcycle license plate on it? Why do their crash statistics go against motorcycles in the State of Wisconsin? And how will these crashes and vehicle popularity affect where the funding for motorcycle safety programs is spent? We will continue to try to address this topic as things happen but for right now, it's just wait and see.

This is the time of year when things change very quickly in Madison. Please follow your ABATE alerts either by email or through The ABATE of Wisconsin Inc Official Facebook page. If you haven't signed up for ABATE alerts via email it is simple to do from the home page of ABATE's website (http://www.abatewis.org). We don't send out a bunch of junk but we will send out alerts and call to actions if it is urgent to get the information out or we reach a milestone with a piece of legislation.

We also have one new piece of legislation that was introduced in early January that we will need to focus our attention on:

AB19: Representative Jim Ott introduced this piece of legislation and scheduled a Public Hearing in his committee (Judiciary) all in the same week. What this bill would do is remove the weight restriction for motorcycles. Currently a Type 1 motorcycle needs to weigh under 1500 lbs. but this would remove that so it can weigh whatever. This is definitely an attempt to make the Polaris Slingshot compliant to Wisconsin Type 1 motorcycle definition. Currently this vehicle should not be licensed as motorcycle because it weighs roughly 1750 pounds. ABATE of Wisconsin will be there to testify against this change. Currently there is not a motorcycle being manufactured that weighs over 1500lbs unless you consider a vehicle that has a steering wheel, gas and brake pedals and a cup holder a motorcycle. I am hopeful that this will open up the discussion that making this change would open up the motorcycle category to become a dumping ground for any vehicle that does meet the definition and safety requirements to be an automobile.

ABATE of Wisconsin Grassroots Lobby Training seminars are completed. We offered the training in 5 ABATE Districts and we trained 85 people! Thank you to everyone that took the time to learn what it takes to continue to be successful at what we do. We are looking at offering this same type of training next fall in order to have a new group of members able to work with the legislators in their districts.

On the Federal level:

Motorcycle Advisory Committee: As part of the FAST Act that was passed at the Federal Level there was a requirement for the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to recreate an advisory council to work on motorcycle related issues. In 2005 the original council was created was required to have 10 members consisting of representatives from the motorcycling community as well as individuals with professional expertise in national motorcyclist safety. According to the 2005 law, four of the ten council members were to include members of the motorcycling community from various state and federal motorcycle associations. The other 6 members would serve to provide the necessary technical expertise related to roadway design, safety and other issues. This council was dissolved in 2009 when the federal highway bill expired but was recreated with the new highway bill passed in 2016. In the creation of a new council it is reported that there will only be one motorcyclist to represent those who ride. The Motorcycle Riders Foundation sent out a call to action and ABATE sent out an alert to our members asking Congress to redirect the FHWA to establish a council with better representation from national and state motorcycle associations. I hope our ABATE members received this call to action and chose to act on it. The MRF version had a direct link to send a form letter that could tracked by the MRF but we are also asking our members for personal contact to express why this is important to motorcyclists both in our state as well as nationally.

There is definitely no shortage of things of going on both in the state and on the national level. The level of success with our topics in the state will all begin on February 23rd. Please make arrangements to join us in Madison. Bring your friends, family and coworkers if they are like-minded people in order to help us achieve our goals. Stop in at our "Headquarters" at Inn on the Park for the latest information and any last-minute instructions. Thank you and I hope to see everyone on the 23rd.

That's it


Panten, Steve. "The Most Important Day of the Year." ABATE of Wisconsin Newsletter Feb. 2017.

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