The Illinois Senate said no to a mandatory motorcycle helmet law yesterday. The bill failed by a vote of 42 to 14.
Illinois last had a helmet law in 1969 when the state Supreme Court ruled the law that was then in effect to be unconstitutional. Illinois is one of only three states, along with Iowa and New Hampshire, that have absolutely no helmet law for anybody.
Democratic State Senator Gary Forby argued against the bill. “I do not want to wear a helmet. My life is my life,” Forby, who rides a motorcycle, said.
And, Democratic Senator Mike Jacobs declared, “Why a helmet? Why not shoulder pads? At some time we’ve got to draw the line. Illinois has become a nanny state. I think we should let people be free.”
The proposal to enact a helmet law, Illinois Senate Bill 1351, was the idea of a Chicago politician named Donne Trotter. (The man’s name is pronounced Donnie.)
Trotter introduced the bill on February 10th. It was assigned to the State Senate’s Public Health Committee eight days later and it was passed out of that committee for a full senate vote. The committee recommended the bill by a vote of six to four. All the Democrats on the committee voted for a helmet law and all the Republicans voted against it.
“If you do live, it is the quality of life that you are going to have because you haven’t busted your head on the concrete,” Trotter argued in defense of his bill. “Because when you’re on a motorcycle, basically, you’re just a rocket ready to be launched if you hit something.”
Senator Forby replied, “If Donne wants to wear a helmet, that’s fine.”
A Brotherhood Against Totalitarian Enactments (ABATE) of Illinois opposed the law. When the bill was passed out of committee in February ABATE spokesman Todd Vandermyde told Trotter, “I don’t need you, or the members of the General Assembly, being another parent to me. I’m 44-years-old. I made it this far. Leave me alone.”
Eventually the State Senate agreed.
The Gang Tattoo Law
Meanwhile, a friend of this page has pointed out that the helmet law isn’t the only proposed Illinois regulation that bikers might want to know about. Illinois Senate Bill 0142 would make it illegal for a tattoo artist to ink “gang-related names, symbols, or markings” on anybody.
The bill is still in the Illinois Senate’s Assignment Committee so no one yet knows what the term “gang-related names, symbols, or markings” is going to mean. But there is a fair chance that prohibited terms might include notations like “AFFA,” “OFFA” or the center patch of almost any motorcycle club.