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Sunday, April 5, 2015


Washington, D.C. has a motorcycle club, and I rode with them last weekend, along with Matt Danielson and Jim Cannon from Richmond. You might think that motorcyclists who live in D.C. would have a keen sense of what is happening on the hill, but sadly that’s not the case.

They’re like most people—until there is a problem or conflict that affects their daily lives, they just don't care. I spoke to the group and informed them of what’s happening on Capitol Hill with Vision Zero, check points, ITS, etc., and most of the group was clueless about all of it, but they left with a healthy amount of concern. I am hoping to get some of them to come out to Bikers Inside The Beltway (BITB).

Speaking of BITB, I’m hoping you have made your plans to join motorcyclists from across the country to attend the Nation’s only national motorcycle lobby day. May 14th of 2015 is the day bikers take Capitol Hill, so be there.

As to what’s going on with the House, it’s headed toward a short-term highway trust fund patch, with the idea being to give lawmakers time to work on a permanent fix for the funding issues currently plaguing the bill. The one-time repatriation holiday to pay for the bill (repatriation being the act of taxing profits of US businesses that store their profits in overseas banks to avoid paying some US taxes) is not gaining popularity. So now the new solution is some sort of tax reform.

The Wi-Fi Innovation Act is getting some media attention this week. Opponents of the legislation (which would mandate a study using a specific spectrum to facilitate a wireless signal alongside vehicles) believe that the Wi-Fi signal will disrupt or disable the spectrum vehicles, and will be using the spectrum to maintain vehicle-to-vehicle (v2v) or vehicle-to-infrastructure (v2x) communications.

They believe that if disruption occurs, it could allow for a gap in fail-safe technology, thus causing a vehicle to auto-brake at an upcoming intersection. The bill includes many studies to see if this is even a remote problem. In an op-ed this week in the newspaper, The Hill, AAA claims the legislation is too hasty and more study is needed. Of course we should study this inside and out before implementation, but the automotive world that has had sole ownership of the frequency has scarcely used it.

Maybe setting up some goal lines is not such a bad idea. The Wi-Fi Innovation Act even made the morning TV show on CBS—you can see it here:

And if that’s not enough Wi-Fi news for you, there’s more. A heated exchange occurred between the Senate Wi-Fi bill sponsor, Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI) on mandating that the spectrum be shared. Peters is a Detroit diehard who sees this as another stumbling block to American motor vehicle industry resurgence. Rubio is likely a GOP presidential candidate looking to position himself as an innovator.

Thursday night was "vote-o-rama" in the US Senate. Sounds fun? No. The Senate has been debating the budget this week, and with that comes a unique procedural position. When considering the budget, there is no time limit on "considering the bill," with considering being the equivalent of “debate plus votes.”

So, you have a scenario where unlimited time is allowed in the US Senate. 791 amendments were filed and 254 were brought up, with 146 passing. The Senate can do 4-5 votes an hour. No one knows what amendment will be taken up and what the amendment actually does until it hits the floor, resulting in total chaos. But because just about anything can be germane to the budget resolution, and because amendments run the gamut, you have to watch and read everything that is filed in case it has an impact on transportation or motorcycling.

And that’s why I was up watching and reading until final passage at 3:30 a.m. on Friday when the US Senate passed a balanced budget for the first time since 2013.

--Jeff Hennie
Motorcycle Rider Foundation, Vice President Government Relations and Public Affairs