The U.S. House of Representatives approved a bill late Tuesday that reaffirms Congress’ intent to prohibit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration from lobbying states and state legislators on motorcycle safety matters, the American Motorcyclist Association reports.
H.R. 4745 — the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act — originally contained a provision that would have permitted the NHSTA to spend tax money to try to convince states to adopt mandatory motorcycle helmet laws and to impose other regulations on motorcyclists.
The ban has been in place since 1995.
U.S. Reps. Tim Walberg (R-Mich.) and Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) offered the amendment to strike Section 102 of H.R. 4745. The amended bill passed on a vote of 229-192, with 10 members not voting.
"As a rider, I know that educating riders and the driving public is the best way to keep motorcyclists safe," Walberg said. "I’ve always thought that what you put between your ears is equally as important as what you put on your head or body, and I’m glad the House passed this commonsense amendment so we can focus on promoting motorcycle safety, not wasting more taxpayer dollars."
Wayne Allard, AMA vice president for government relations, applauded the change.
"We are happy that the House members accepted the language in the amendment," said Wayne Allard, AMA vice president for government relations. "Lifting the ban on NHSTA lobbying would have given Washington bureaucrats free rein to spend taxpayer money to lobby states and legislators to create laws that infringe on our rights as motorcyclists."
The Senate version of the appropriations bill remains under consideration.
The AMA believes that adults should have the right to voluntarily decide when to wear a helmet. The AMA does not oppose laws requiring helmets for minor motorcycle operators and passengers. The AMA asserts that helmet use alone is insufficient to ensure a motorcyclist’s safety. To read the AMA’s full position on voluntary helmet use, visit: www.americanmotorcyclist.com/Rights/PositionStatements/VoluntaryHelmetUse.aspx.