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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Nebraska - LINCOLN - Filibuster kills bill to repeal Nebraska's motorcycle helmet law


Nebraska - LINCOLN - Nebraska's mandatory helmet law has survived another repeal effort. Supporters of the helmet law effectively filibustered a repeal bill Monday.
Backers of Legislative Bill 31, which would have allowed adult motorcyclists to ride without helmets, failed to reach the 33 votes necessary to cut off debate after eight hours of discussions. The bill died when 24 senators voted to cut off a filibuster, nine fewer than was needed. As a result, the bill is effectively done for the year.
It marked the second year in a row that a filibuster killed a repeal bill.
The measure was sponsored by Sen. Dave Bloomfield of Hoskins.
Repeal supporters said they believed in giving Nebraska's 97,000 motorcyclists freedom to choose whether they wanted to wear helmets.
The bill would have mandated helmets for riders younger than 21 and eye protection for all riders.
Supporters of the helmet law say repealing it would lead directly to more deaths and more traumatic brain injuries. They also made an economic argument, noting that survivors of motorcycle crashes frequently turn to state and federal programs to pay for their costly long-term care. The helmet law, they said, saves tax dollars by minimizing injuries.
A recent survey by Research Associates found that 77 percent of Nebraskans supported the helmet law, while 19 percent favored repealing it.
"I can't buy this freedom argument," said Sen. Robert Hilkemann of Omaha. "We're not here to take away motorcycles. We're not here to take them off the road."
Nineteen states require helmet use for all, and 28 states require helmets for younger riders but not most adults, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Three states, including Iowa, have no helmet requirements.
Four previous attempts to repeal Nebraska's helmet law have failed. Last year, the bill died when 25 senators voted to cut off a filibuster.