Louisiana politics just killed an attempt to repeal the law that requires adult motorcyclists to wear a helmet.
The helmet law changes every couple of years down on the bayou. After he was elected in 1996, Governor Mike Foster persuaded the state legislature to repeal the helmet law. After Kathleen Blanco was elected she persuaded the same klavern of pointy-headed politicians to bring the helmet law back. For the last couple of years Governor Bobby Jindal has been trying to repeal the helmet law again.
Last year, the helmet law repeal was blocked by the Louisiana Senate’s Health and Welfare Committee. A man named Jim Champagne, who was in charge of highway safety in the Pelican State told the committee that without a helmet law bikers would bust open their heads and become “wards of the state.”
“Nobody carries enough insurance to protect themselves against being in the hospital, or in a ward, for the rest of their lives,” Champagne explained.
House Bill 639
Bobby Jindal fired Champagne and tried repealing the helmet law again this year. Republican Representative James Morris introduced House Bill 639 which would allow grown men over the age of 18 to wear any kind of hat, or even no hat at all, when they ride their motorcycles. The bill did require helmetless riders to have at least $100,000 of liability insurance coverage and to have health insurance.
Democratic Representative Charmaine Marchand Stiaes summarized the opposition to the bill when she said, “Do not do this. This is not wise. Your constituents will be paying for brain-dead motorcyclists.”
But the bill passed anyway, by a vote of 64 to 33 and Governor Jindal said he would sign the law if it made it through the State Senate. It did not.
Right To Remain Silent
Before the bill could be voted on in the Senate it had to be voted out of the Health and Welfare Committee. Before it could be voted out of that committee somebody on that committee had to make a motion for a vote. And this morning, all the esteemed politicians on that committee exercised their right to remain silent.
The Chair of that committee is a woman named Willie Mount. This morning she said, “If nobody wants to do anything, we will just defer the bill.” And it turned out that that was exactly what everybody on the committee wanted to do. Nothing. So Ms. Mount announced, “Okay. We will defer the bill.”
And, that was how the Louisiana House Bill 639 died.