Lobbyist Report: October 2018

As this is written the November elections are just around the corner. By the time you get the November newsletter the elections should be over and only awaiting the canvassing to certify the results. I wish I could stall my report until after the elections so I could include the results of the gubernatorial and Congress elections, but I won’t be able to do that for the November newsletter, so that report will be after the fact. It is an interesting race for Governor this year, with many Republicans coming out to support Laura Kelly, who is a Democrat. And as usual, the Super PACS put tons of money into ads both for and against candidates. The sad thing in my mind is that these ads almost always distort the truth, and amount to mudslinging. The public who don’t pay any more attention other than to these ads are often influenced by that distorted information. I wish they had not changed the rules that now allow almost unlimited contributions to the PACs, instead of previous rules that limited individual contributions.
While there are some ideas about bills in the 2019 legislative session being considered it is premature to do too much work on them, at least on the House side since we won’t know who is elected until after the November 6th. We’ll definitely be working with the bicycle community again on the negligent driving bill, and I have reached out to them to discuss plans for the 2019 legislative session.
The AMA reports that in New Jersey a bill has been introduced that essentially mirrors the dead red bill that Kansas and other states have already adopted. In Ohio a distracted driving fine, which might be added to a moving violation ticket, is in the works. This is similar to the bill we and the bicycle community tried to work last year, although ours went further in the intent that the penalty would essentially assign fault to the offending driver, making them more liable for paying for any damage or injury incurred. Motorcycles are still a hot commodity in the theft department. There were 44,268 stolen bikes in 2017, which was actually slightly down from the 46,467 stolen in 2016. As would be expected based on state populations and general weather averages, California and Florida rank first and second. Another thing of interest that relates to the issues with ethanol, is that Butamax Advanced Biofuels has been registered with the EPA to blend a compound called isobutanol into gasoline. The jury is still out, but the additive, made from organic material like corn and wheat, is supposedly more like gasoline so does not have the negative effects that ethanol may have to combustion engines. So far the EPA registration is allowing testing of the additive, so more will be revealed in the future, I’m sure.
Those of you who are members of the MRF should have noticed that the September/October newsletter has a name change, going from the MRF Reports to a name they had back in their inception. They are now labeling the newsletter the American Biker Journal. Same great organization and newsletter, they are just going back to their roots.
October 16th is the cutoff date for registering to vote, so I would encourage our Board to make sure they inform their members before then, as well as encouraging them to check out the candidates in their area to know what they support (or not), basically become an informed voter before casting your ballot.
As always I encourage our members to join the AMA and the MRF in order to have information on current state of affairs in Washington, and elsewhere. You can also get on their websites to sign up for email notifications.
As always, if you have personal contacts with your elected officials, especially if they are newly elected, and can help connect me with them it would be appreciated. Personal relationships go a long way in pretty much every endeavor, be it work, personal, or legislative in nature.
Oh, while I can’t schedule it yet, we are looking at February 12th for Bikers Under the Dome next year. I can’t confirm it yet, but am working on it.

Steve Christenberry
ABATE of Kansas