Missouri Governor Vetoes SB 294

Jefferson City, Missouri - Governor Mel Carnahan (D) vetoed SB 294, the
modification of Missouri's mandatory helmet law Tuesday (July 13). The
reason for the veto was cited as avoiding an increase in cost to the
citizens of Missouri and an increase in the number of head injuries. Until
now, the motorcyclists of Missouri had been told by the Governor&Mac226;s office
that he considered this a non-controversial bill. Apparently the governor
has determined to make it controversial. Freedom of Road Riders (FORR) has
worked tirelessly to get this legislation passed only to have the governor
steal freedom of choice out from under them within 48 hours of his deadline
for action. According to the Missouri Constitution, the governor has
forty-five days from the end of session to sign or veto the bill or allow
it to become law by taking no action. By statute, the Missouri General
Assembly reconvenes in September for ten days to consider overriding
vetoes. A veto override requires a two-thirds majority vote of the elected
members in each chamber of the General Assembly.

Based on his objections to SB 294, Governor Carnahan seems to have bought
into the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration&Mac226;s claim that
motorcyclists are social burdens. A disturbing pattern seems to be
developing around the country where the social burden advocates are
convincing governors to override the will of the people and the decisions
of the legislatures by vetoing helmet law modification bills. Governor
Carnahan is the third governor in the last two years to veto this type of
legislation. The governor did not contact FORR to discuss his objections
about the bill prior to the veto. The only contact FORR received from the
governor&Mac226;s staff was a phone message after the fact.

Tom Pauley, Government Relations Director for FORR, said, "We are terribly
disappointed. All indications were the Governor was just going to let this
bill become law. The members of FORR have put in a tremendous effort and
should not view this as a failure." Pauley went on to encourage Missouri&Mac226;s
motorcyclists, "We will continue to do what we do best, grassroots activity
in the legislative process. Now we need to focus on the next step, the
September veto session. Then we will move on to the next legislative
session and the 2000 elections. We are not going away!"

Steve Zimmer, Vice President of Government Relations for the Motorcycle
Riders Foundation, said, "I&Mac226;m surprised by the governor&Mac226;s veto. The past
leadership of FORR was lead to believe the governor supported this issue.
>From a federal standpoint, this action raises some concerns about the
Missouri Senate race in 2000. Governor Carnahan has expressed his
intention to challenge U.S. Senator John Ashcroft (R)." In 1995, Senator
Ashcroft supported motorcyclists when he voted to repeal the federal
penalties on states without helmet laws and rejected the social burden
argument when he voted against denying federal benefits to motorcyclists
riding without a helmet.

Zimmer continued, "Motorcyclist are shocked by the governor&Mac226;s sneak
attack. Governor Carnahan should remember the words of Admiral Yamamoto
minutes after the attack on Pearl Harbor, &Mac226;I fear we have only awakened a
sleeping giant, and his reaction will be terrible.&Mac226;"

For further information contact Steve at 202-546-0983 or by e-mail at

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See: 50 State Review

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