Hello again, we are now nearing the end of the Arizona Legislative Session. There is only one motorcycle related bill in play. SB 1082 passed both houses and awaits the governor’s signature. I was worried that it did not received unanimous support at the legislature. Some Republicans did not like it comparing the Motorcycle Safety Fund (MSF) to “nanny state” tactics. I guess we just didn’t get the message to them that we taxed ourselves to promote motorcycle safety and awareness. This bill did not include the Arizona Motorcycle Safety Advisory Council (AMSAC). Alberto Gutier, director of the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety (GOHS), did not like AMSAC claiming it was too difficult to get a quorum (majority of members) to attend meetings for the purposes of making decisions. Near the end of the council, the Governor was appointing mostly law enforcement personnel. That worried me because LE has a different idea of what constitutes safety than we do. The Governor has said recently that he wanted to eliminate many boards and commissions that he believes are unnecessary. I have heard from several legislators that some boards which oversee funds appropriated by legislators have no members. This leaves the money to be administered by a Governor’s agent. Some are worried that this is a backdoor to funneling money from dedicated funds to other government uses. As we have seen in the past, our legislature will cut funding from the general fund to some activity and use money from other areas to fill the hole. One representative asked me how much I trust Alberto Gutier and if I really believed that ALL of the money from registrations will be used for motorcycle safety. I replied that we had developed a good working relationship with him and believe he sees lowering mc fatalities and collisions as a good thing that needs support. After all, the only other option is to push for a repeal of the extra $1 that we set in stone while leaving the other parts of the MSF legislation subject to legislative extensions. Like everything else, we shall see what we shall see
On the federal front, The Motorcycle Rights Foundation has renewed its efforts to push the RPM act, and to increase the number of SMRO members on the Motorcycle Safety Council. I wish them well. If you are not a member of the MRF, you should be. They go to the Congress claiming they represent us. If we can increase the numbers they will have more clout. But I preach to the choir, we have trouble with membership at ABATE. The Arizona motorcycle lobbyists go to the legislature and claim more than 200,000 registered motorcycles in the state. Yet we can only get upwards of fifty or so to show up on a sunny day at the capitol. Some days I just shake my head. What do we think will happen if the driverless cars cannot be programmed to recognize motorcycles? Do you think the state will force the manufacturers to stop production until the problem is solved? Or might they force motorcyclists to adapt our bikes to meet the needs of the cars’ programs? Numbers matter, especially numbers of people who contact the legislature concerning issues.
Again, this year, we have failed to get a motorcycle anti-profiling bill into consideration. As many of you know, ABATE and AzCMC funded the Arizona Motorcycle Riders Political Action Committee (AMPAC). Before the election, we handed out donations to influential legislators who have been our friends. The Department of Public Safety (DPS) stepped up their game as well. They briefed Sen. Judy Burges on outlaw motorcycle gang activity in Arizona. She told us to leave her alone. She sent back the money. She claimed she could not accept “gang money.” I don’t know what they showed her, but I know that if they had evidence of criminal activity and are not acting on it, they are derelict in their duty. They have no evidence. They may have stories, clues, inferences, memories, or any other baseless claims, but they have nothing to bolster any claim of crimes committed by motorcycle clubs or riders that rises to the level of gang activity. But since the Supreme Court decided that police could lie in the furtherance of an investigation, they have taken that to mean they can lie anytime, anywhere, and to anybody, including judges and legislators. The level of bullshit emanating from the capitol is mountainous. The worst part is that our Governor is so pro LE that he doesn’t see that as a problem. I am dispirited to a degree. I truly believed that we could prove our case. I hoped that we could gather video evidence of our treatment. Instead all I ever have is a handful of tickets and stories that people won’t even write down on paper. I doubt that the DPS has much more, but they do have the ear of the Governor and paid employees who go to the legislature regularly to present their positions. It is not easy for volunteers to fight against the vested interests of government. Stay safe out there. The heat is coming.
Johnny D ALMA MC
ACMC Designated Lobbyist
ABATE State PAC Officer
Hello again. As you know February 15 was our annual Motorcycle Day at the Dome. We had a good turnout. The sun was out and it was a perfect day to ride. Many legislators came down to meet us. If you missed it, too bad for you. It was good to see so many friends come out to enjoy a great day. We were able to inform our representatives about the issues we in the motorcycle community are dealing with.
There have been questions about Senator Judy Burges. After five years of working with her, she turned her back on the motorcycle community. She claims that the Department of Public Safety (DPS) gave her a briefing on motorcycle gang activity in Arizona. She also returned the campaign donation from the Arizona Motorcycle Riders Political Action Committee.
Over the Summer, Steve Yarbrough was elected as the President of the Arizona Senate. He is a former prosecutor and he hates motorcycle clubs, and bikers in general. Frank Milstead was appointed by Governor Ducey to head the DPS in 2015 and has turned up the harassment on bikers. After the last election, law enforcement agencies nationwide are expecting more funding and coordination with federal agencies to go after gangs. In Arizona, the number one type of gang listed in their training is “Motorcycle”. We need to work more with our elected representatives to ensure that our rights are not trampled in the name of Law and Order.
I wish I had better news but for now this is it. In 2018, we need to find a way to elect people who are more sympathetic to our issues. Right now, please call your state representatives and ask them to support SB 1082, the bill to recreate the Motorcycle Safety Fund. This is from a tax we imposed on ourselves to promote motorcycle safety. In recent years the money has been used to fund rider training scholarships through AMSAF. There is some evidence that these training courses are saving lives. Until next time, enjoy the sunshine, ride safe out there.
Johnny D ALMA MC
ACMC Designated Lobbyist
ABATE State PAC Officer