Missouri Helmet Law Limbo

May 21, 2009

All Posts, News

About two months after most news outlets reported its repeal, the state of Missouri still has a helmet law for riders over the age of 21. It is the same law that has been on the books for forty years.

If you are 21 in Missouri you can still buy a gun, act in pornography, feed your gambling addiction, drink until you puke, get married, get divorced, get addicted to Vicodin and vote-for whatever good voting does. But, you cannot legally feel the wind in your hair the next time you putt down to the convenience store. And if that sorry state of affairs does not change it will be because a fat, ugly man nobody ever voted for has decided that it is his job to run your life.

The Missouri Senate repealed the helmet law for people older than 21 on March 9th. Twenty-one. You can vote when you are 18. You can sign up to be an airborne ranger when you are 17.

The lower House also passed the bill last week. The finished version of the bill still requires helmets on interstate highways but not for trips across town.

Pete Rahn Knows Everything

So, it is now up to Missouri Governor Jay Nixon to sign this new law. And, State Transportation Director Pete Rahn is very publically trying to talk him out that.

Rahn is the former head of the New Mexico Department of Transportation. Riders in New Mexico, by the way, are not required to wear a helmet after they reach age 17.

Rahn -the fat, ugly man nobody voted for-was appointed to the Missouri job in August 2004 and on that occasion Highway Commissioner James Anderson said, “We wanted someone who can walk on the Missouri River.” Apparently, Rahn thought Anderson was serious.

For no apparent reason other than to generate publicity for himself, Rahn has launched a crusade against helmet choice for grownups riding in their own neighborhoods. Rahn hired Abacus Associates of Hatfield, Massachusetts to take a poll. He intended for the poll to prove his point and so it did. According to Rahn’s poll 84 percent of everybody in Missouri thinks you should wear a special plastic hat.

Regrettably, although the results of the poll have been made public the cost of the poll has not. The cost is either a state secret or Rahn has been too busy publicizing himself to have time to reveal that.

On Planet Pete Rahn

Rahn staged his most recent television opportunity in front of the emergency room of a Jefferson City hospital. He told Governor Nixon to “save precious lives” by vetoing the bill. Right, Nixon was not actually there but Rahn talked to him anyway. Possibly, Rahn has to talk to the governor on television because he has lost his boss’s phone number.

The once noble but now forlorn St. Louis Post-Dispatch agreed with Rahn. It called letting those who ride decide a “spectacularly bad idea.”

But Missouri Senator Kurt Schaefer, who sponsored the motorcycle insurance bill that includes the partial helmet law repeal, called Rahn’s grandstanding “another example of an unelected bureaucrat attempting to set state policy.”

A spokesman for Governor Nixon said his boss plans to review the bill “and is going to carefully consider it before determining whether to sign the bill or veto it.” Whatever that means.

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5 Responses to “Missouri Helmet Law Limbo”

  1. Bear Says:

    I live and ride in Missouri and no one from Abacus Associates ever asked for my opinion. I fully support individual choice (incase someone from Abacus happens to read this). I wear my brain bucket most of the time; I survived a 45 mph head butting contest with a railroad track because of it, but it should be left to the individual to make that call. The last word there “call” is important. According to a local paper “Governor Nixon has received about 1,000 e-mails and letters on the motorcycle legislation – more than on any other legislative issue, said Nixon spokesman Scott Holste. Those urging Nixon to sign the legislation outnumbered those urging a veto by about 7-to-1, according to analysis of the messages Wednesday by The Associated Press.” We have to keep the pressure on him… call (573) 751-3222), email (http://governor.mo.gov/constituents *in the “subject” box choose “legislation”, snail mail (Governor Jay Nixon (D),210 W Capitol Ave # 216 Jefferson City, MO 65101); whatever it takes. What seems to get lost in this discussion is that the “helmet law repeal” was only a small part of a bill (SCS/SB202) that addresses and will prevent the much more troubling issue of insurance companies being able to assign “comparative negligence” to motorcycle operators. I wonder how many of you are aware that your insurance company will pay less if you are involved in an accident while riding your motorcycle because they are legally permitted to consider you partially negligent based on your choice to operate a two wheeled vehicle. Forget who was to blame for the accident, you’re still negligent and won’t be compensated as you would have been had you been in your cage. That to me is much more troubling than whether I can bare my shaved dome to Ra. Happy trails to you all and a special happy memorial day to my combat brethern. Hoist one with me in memory of those who will be forever young.

  2. Rebel Says:

    Dear Bear,

    Always nice to hear from you.

    Your pal,

  3. Emmett Says:

    Great writing and suggestions. Thank you!

  4. Bear Says:

    UPDATE: (6/29/09) I work in a smallish town in Missouri which has a smallish radio station (KWRE AM 73). A regular feature on this radio station is a program called “Live Wire”. The program features live interviews; mostly with local politicians. Today’s guest was the Senator from Missouri’s 26th District; John Griesheimer. Senator Griesheimer is the only politican I’ve ever listened to who will give a direct answer to a direct question without holding back. I called into the program and asked the Senator wheather he belived the Governor would sign or veto the bill referenced here. He replied with this: “You can write this down; the bill will become law”, but do so without the Governors signature. He said that this is a hot issue and he believed that the Governor would choose to ignore it; neither signing nor vetoing it. July 14th is the last day that any pending legislation can be acted upon; if the Governor doesn’t act by then it will automatically become law and become effective on August 28th. The Senator also said that the Governor sent a message to Mr. Rahn by withholding approximately $33k dollars from his budget as a means of telling him to keep quiet and not to try and box the Governor into a corner again. I guess we’ll know for sure in two weeks, but I’m choosing to be optomistic.

  5. Stephen Brice Says:

    If the freedom of choice is an issue with helmets then let it be an issue with every opinion! Smoking nicotine should be banned and people shouldn’t be eligible for a drivers license without schooling. Might as well have banned guns and strip clubs. People drive everyday without seat belts and but its uncontrollable. People drink and drive, and cause accidents killing each other. A biker without a helmet should be the least of anyone’s worry besides the rider.

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