September 16, 1997

House Committee Approves
Ban of Lobbying By DOT

From Wayne T. Curtin
V.P. for Govt. Relations, MRF

Washington, D.C.On September, 16, 1997, the U.S. House of
Representatives' Science Committee approved for floor action the
Surface Transportation Research and Development Act, H.R. 860.
Included in the manager's amendment offered by Chairman Jim
Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and the committee's ranking Democrat George Brown
(D-CA) is a provision which prohibits officers and employees of the
U.S. Department of Transportation from lobbying Federal, State and
local officials.

This legislation will be merged into the House ISTEA re-authorization
bill, BESTEA (H.R.2400), as part of the manager's amendment when the
BETSEA legislation is debated on the House floor later this year. The
term "manager's amendment" refers to an amendment being offered by a
committee chairman at a committee mark up or to an amendment being
offered by committee chairmen when they bring up their bills on the
House or Senate floor.

Speaking to the MRF after the mark up, Chairman Sensenbrenner stated
his reasons for advancing this provision: "This problem was brought to
my attention by a large volume of mail from my constituents in
Wisconsin. I don't believe that federal funds should be used for
lobbying. Lobbying activities should be funded by private money."

Commenting on the passage of H.R.860 by the Science Committee, MRF
vice president of government relations Wayne Curtin stated, "This is a
major step in our efforts to stop the National Highway Traffic Safety
Administration's (NHTSA) lobbying activities on the helmet law issue."
NHTSA is an agency of the Department of Transportation and this
prohibition on lobby activities would apply to NHTSA officials and
employees as well. Further, Curtin stated, "We greatly appreciate
Chairman Sensenbrenner taking this action to protect motorcyclists,
and all other tax paying citizens, from having their federal taxes
used to lobby against their interests."

The text of the provision in H.R.860 banning lobbying by DOT officers
and employees reads as follows: "SEC.3 LIMITATIONS (a) PROHIBITION OF
LOBBYING ACTIVITIES. - No funds appropriated to the Secretary of
Transportation shall be available for any activity whose purpose is to
influence any pending Federal, State, or local legislation, except
that this subsection shall not prevent officers or employees of the
United States or its departments or agencies from communicating to
Members of Congress on the request of any Member of Congress, through
the proper channels, requests for legislation or appropriations which
they deem necessary for the efficient conduct of the public business.
Nothing in this subsection shall prohibit officers or employees of the
United States or its departments or agencies from testifying before
any Federal, State or local legislative body upon the invitation of
such legislative body."

What this provision means to motorcyclists is that NHTSA officials
could not come into any State and lobby. NHTSA could not testify at a
hearing in the State Legislature unless invited by the legislature to
do so and then their testimony could not advocate passage of a law.
In addition, it would prohibit NHTSA from producing and distributing
materials, like the video lobbying package under production, that
advocate helmet laws.

Motorcyclists are encouraged to contact your Member of Congress and
ask them to support keeping this provision intact as the House of
Representatives continues debate and action on the BESTEA legislation.
For more information on how you can help with this and other issues
affecting motorcyclists please contact Wayne Curtin in MRF's
Washington office at 202-546-0983

More info: 1) 1st Press Release, 2) ISTEA details, 3) ISTEA goes to vote

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