Bikers Talk Politicians Listen

January 26, 2009

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The strongest and most effective bikers’ rights organization in the country may be the Texas Motorcycle Rights Association (TMRA.)

Today, an estimated 2,000 members of the TMRA rode into Austin for what the group calls “Legislative Day.” They parked their motorcycles in one of the free bike parking only spaces on the South and West sides of the Capitol building. Then they strolled inside to hear Representative Norma Chavez of El Paso read a resolution honoring them and their work with the Legislature. And, then they fanned out to the offices of their Senators and Representatives to tell those politicians how Texas bikers expect them to vote.

This year the TMRA has strong opinions about five issues:

1. The group opposes any change in the current Texas Helmet Law. In Texas, you are allowed to ride your motorcycle without wearing a special hat if you are old enough to vote and you can prove that you have $10,000 of medical insurance.

2. Texas bikers want the Texas Department of Public Safety to stop skimming 25 percent off the top of the Rider Training Fund. Motorcyclists pay an extra $8 a year for their license plates to fund safety training for new riders. And, right now the state takes a fourth of that money for expenses. The TMRA thinks that is a little steep.

3. Motorists in Texas who are too busy text messaging to notice motorcyclists are now subject to a $25 fine for “failure to yield” when they run over one of us. The TMRA would like to see the fine for running over a biker while texting increased to $1000.

4. The TMRA and the Texas Confederation of Clubs would like to stop blatant discrimination by hotels and motels, restaurants, clubs and parking garages against people who wear “motorcycle attire” or who arrive at one of those fine establishments riding a motorcycle. Right now in Texas, it is perfectly legal to put up a sign that says “No Bikers Allowed.” Finally,

5. the TMRA also opposes what it calls “the road block bill,” which at the present time is two proposed pieces of legislation that would make sobriety check points legal in Texas. Sobriety checkpoints have been illegal in Texas since a state appeals court said in 1994 that police couldn’t use them without the authorization of a specific state law.

Currently the road blocks, which stop and interrogate every driver and rider who passes by, are legal in 39 states. Texas Senate Bill 298, sponsored by Senator John Carona, and Texas House Bill 169, sponsored by Representative Todd Smith, would both legalize the dragnets.

This is the eighth time the Texas Motorcycle Rights Association has held a Legislative Day. God bless Texas.

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