Lobbyist Report: March 2018

Never a dull moment in Washington, it seems. Hope Hicks, the President’s main communication director, announced that she was resigning from the position to take a job in the corporate world. She is the 20th White House staff member to either resign or be fired since President Trump took office. Rumors are that more are to come. The Florida shootings have created a back swell of response from youth, organizations, the Florida governor, businesses, and the pro or con gun proponents. Several companies are now refusing to give price cuts to NRA members, Dick’s Sporting Goods will no longer sell AR-15s, and Dicks and Walmart will only sell guns to those 21 and older. It is perhaps likely that bump stocks will be outlawed, and perhaps high capacity magazines, but politicians are treading lightly over 2nd Amendment rights, the NRA, and gun control advocates.
Governor Colyer was sworn into office as Governor and announced that his new Lt. Governor will be Tracey Mann, a Salina businessman. There has been little discussion so far about an education plan that must be submitted to the Supreme Court in April. Medicaid expansion, the education plan, and the budget will likely be the big focus since the legislative turnaround day was on Friday, February 32rd, so bills that have not been sent from one chamber to another will not proceed, unless they come from certain committees that are exempt from the turnaround day requirement.
In California, motorcyclist profiling is the target of A.B. 2972, co-authored by Assembly member Anna Caballero (D- Salinas) and Speaker Pro-Tem Kevin Mullin (D-San Mateo). The bill would prohibit law enforcement officers from stopping motorcyclists based on "the fact that a person rides a motorcycle or wears motorcycle or motorcycle club-related clothing, without any individualized suspicion." The AMA supports this bill, which is in keeping with the organization's position statement on motorcyclist profiling.
Four bills of interest to motorcyclists in Kansas, at this point at least, are SB274, SB99, HB2194, and HB2188. SB274 adds a clause in the law that provides guidance on fines for a several page list of infractions. That clause is “Negligent Driving,” with a fine of $45. If this bill cannot be re-submitted by an exempt committee it will likely die this year. SB99 is a hands free driving bill, which would make it illegal to operate a hand held device while driving, effectively adding phone calls to the already illegal texting while driving. So far no action has been taken. HB2194 pertains to motorcycle operator licensing. It passed the House last year and was amended and approved by the Senate Committee on Transportation. We are checking daily to see when it gets on the calendar for the full Senate, but have been assured that it should be voted on. HB2188 (ROW bill) was never worked last year, and with little support will likely die again this year. HB2605 sort of snuck up on us. I was in the Senate Committee on Transportation meeting the morning of our Bikers Under the Dome event on February 6th, and heard a presentation by the Kansas Motor Carrier’s Association about “platooning.” No relation to our military platoons, I might add. What it would do is allow 2 semi’s to connect electronically and would essentially be self-driving trucks on interstates and other divided 4 lane highways. Drivers would be present in the vehicles, mostly to get them on and off the highways. The trucks could operate almost in tandem 40 feet apart. This has been in a testing phase in a few other states. A few days after this “presentation” I learned that HB2605 had been submitted to the House Committee on Transportation. This bill would legalize “platooning” in Kansas. After consulting with our Board I was directed to testify against this bill, because of concerns that the federal standards so far do not require recognition of motorcycles by automated driving technology. Rather, they specify cars, trucks, pedestrians, and bicycles, but do not include motorcycles. The MRF and AMA are working diligently to change those standards.
As always, I encourage you to join the MRF (Motorcycle Riders Foundation) and the American Motorcyclists Association (AMA), to stay abreast of happens on the national front. The Bikers on the Beltway event will be in Washington in May next year, in September is the Meeting of the Minds in Denver, and/or you can attend the annual MRF conference. And of course we will have the MID-South MILE in Oklahoma in October.
While elections for state offices are a few months away, declared candidates are beginning to establish their positions on various issues. Given the large number of candidates on both the Republican and Democrat caucuses, it means that there will be heated discussions by the candidates long before the primaries next August. Listen carefully to what they say, as you’ll be asked to vote for a candidate for the party in which you are declared. And if you have not registered to vote, DO SO! It is our responsibility to elect our representatives, and we can’t do that if we do not register to vote.
I would also encourage you, regardless off your party affiliation, to consider running for your precinct committeeman/woman position. This is a way you can support your party of preference in supporting campaigning efforts for candidates that we vet for their support of motorcyclists. Go to your local election office to register as a candidate, by June 1.
For those of you who attended the February State Board meeting, you will recall that Wink Harman, a candidate for Kansas Governor, was present to talk with the Board. After the Republican Convention in Wichita he announced that he was withdrawing from the race, and throwing his support to Kris Kobach. Word on the street is that he is lobbying behind the scenes to become Kobach’s Lt. Governor candidate.
The Democrat Convention at the Ramada Inn in Topeka is on March 2nd and 3rd. ABATE of Kansas will, as usual, have a hospitality suite, but only on Friday the 2nd. We hope many ABATE members will attend and reach out to their legislators and those legislator’s staffers. Plus, it is just a good time to mingle with all the people there.
As always, please contact me with your legislative concerns and also your legislative contacts. It is always nice to be introduced to a legislator by someone who has a relationship with that person. And while it is a bit more difficult to contact your representatives during the off session times, I can provide you with their personal phone and email address if you need. My contact information is in the newsletter.

Steve Christenberry
Lobbyist, ABATE of Kansas