Lobbyist Report: February 2018

The turmoil at the national level continues, I’m afraid. The government had a 3 day shut down until a short term spending bill was passed, but it has to be renewed by February 8th. The primary issue is how to incorporate an immigration bill, and our congress is all over the place with it. According to polls over 75% of the public say there should be a way for the “Dreamers” to continue to live in the U.S., and a pathway to citizenship, but there has been little consensus in Congress.
President Trump re-nominated Governor Brownback as the ambassador for religious freedom, and the Senate narrowly approved the appointment (Vice-President Pence cast the tie breaking vote). Brownback was approved and resigned from the Governor’s office on January 31st. Lt. Governor Colyer was sworn into office as Governor that afternoon. He has yet to announce the new Lt. Governor, as I write this. There has been little discussion so far about an education plan that must be submitted to the Supreme Court in April. I expect this topic, as well as the budget, to become a focal point of the legislature in the coming weeks.
The 2018 Legislative Session opened on Monday, January 8th. The first couple of weeks in the session were relatively slow, as expected, but things started moving by the end of the month as the various committees started meeting and new bills were being introduced. Four bills of interest to motorcyclists, 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. The idea is that if a person is charged with negligent driving it would insinuate guilt and therefore responsibility for injuries or property damage. 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. HB2194 pertains to motorcycle licensing, and passed the House last year and now is in the Senate Committee on Transportation. We testified on HB2188 (ROW bill) last year, but it was never worked, and will need to be amended in any case. I will be talking with Representative Proehl’s (Chair of the House Committee on Transportation) office about that bill.
Our Bikers Under the Dome event was held on February 6th, and we had a fair turnout of ABATE members and Coalition of Club members. I had a sign up sheet to try and take a census of attendees, and 31 people signed it, but there must have been at least a dozen, if not more, who did not sign the sheet. It was a pretty good turnout of bikers, and we did get to talk to several legislators about our concerns.
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 in, or 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 year 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.
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
ABATE of Kansas