Sensenbrenner Introduces Resolution to Defend the Rights of Motorcycle Riders
Jul 1, 2010 -
In 1996, Congress voted to repeal penalties for states that did not enact mandatory motorcycle helmet laws. Upon repealing those penalties, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) engaged in an active lobbying campaign, using federal funds, to persuade states to enact mandatory helmet laws. In response to NHTSA’s lobbying efforts, Congress included language in H.R. 2400, the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century, which prohibited funds from being used to lobby state or local legislators. H.R. 2400 was signed into law June 9, 1998.
In May, the NHTSA Administrator, David Strickland, reemphasized his Congressional testimony in which he said that the core component of NHTSA’s motorcycle safety plan is to increase helmet use and “anything the Congress does that would support the movement of riders into helmets would be efficacious of safety.”
“It is the job of Congress to defend the freedom and individual responsibilities that motorcycle riders across the nation enjoy as they travel the open roads of America,” Congressman Sensenbrenner said. “Mr. Strickland’s plan greatly concerns me as it is not the job of the federal government to create one-size-fits-all helmet laws. Mr. Strickland appears to be intent on pursuing all means possible to enact mandatory helmet laws either at the federal level or by violating the principles of the 10th Amendment and bullying the States into enacting mandatory helmet laws.”
In response, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) along with Congressmen Doug Lamborn (R-CO), Denny Rehberg (R-MT), Tom Petri (R-WI) and Paul Ryan (R-WI), today introduced a resolution “supporting efforts to retain the ban on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s ability to lobby state legislatures using federal tax dollars and urging NHTSA to focus on crash prevention and rider education” to bring attention to the concerns of motorcyclists in Wisconsin and around the country.
“This is another attempt by the federal government to trample on states’ rights,” Congressman Lamborn said. “It is not the role of the federal government to coerce or even lobby the states into enacting legislation. As a motorcyclist myself, I am a firm believer in the importance of proper safety laws on our roads in the equipment we use. But, it should be my choice to wear a helmet. This resolution will encourage motorcycle safety while upholding our constitutional principles.”
“Montana doesn’t need the federal government dictating how to regulate our roads,” Congressman Rehberg said. “Folks out West are getting pretty sick of nanny-state bureaucrats telling them how to live and what choices to make. These decisions are best left to Montanans.”
Congressman Sensenbrenner raised concerns over NHTSA’s lobbying efforts while Chairman of the House Committee on Science in 1997. Congressman Sensenbrenner included anti-lobbying language in several bills under his jurisdiction and also supported the anti-lobbying language that eventually became law.