May 4th 1999
Another landmark day in ABATE history.
Although we have had our share of victories in Abate, this day was ranks up there with the best of them. For the first time in history, a Transportation Committee reported (passed) our helmet law. The Senate Transportation Committee voted almost unanimously for this bill. Senator Frank Padavan (R,C) Bellarose, Queens, voted against the bill. He also happened to be absent. What we did learn from the Senators who were in the room was that we are getting the message out. Our points, our facts, our rebuttals, were finally sinking in. They were discussing helmet laws with fair accuracy.
It was difficult for all four of us to stand there, being better informed than some of the members discussing our fate, and wishing we could interject additional info to drive home a point, sway an opinion, or make them see things a different way. But we could not. This was a Transportation Committee meeting, not a public hearing. Fortunately things appeared to be going well, so as long as they were close to the mark and on our side, the stress was bearable. It was good to see that after years of working with Albany, they were now discussing our information; we had made an impact. Hopefully, our elected officials are mostly done looking at us like were from another planet when we suggest repealing the helmet law.
It was also plain to see that a few members in the room had just recently been swayed into the yes vote. Senator Johnson had continued pushing this bill right up to the meeting, and the other members were vocal about it. There was also no question about the effect Prospector has had on our government. There were four of us representing motorcyclists in the room, Prospector, Larry Schwartz, Mike Kenna and myself. Although we have been doing this for over a decade in both Albany and Washington, Prospector and often Larry Schwartz have had an irreplaceable impact on our state government by just being there every week these passed two years. By making personal appointments with both yours and my elected officials, these two have made a reputation for being professional, sharp, and informed on these bills. Today's victory belongs to Prospector - for the first time in history, we have passed a helmet law out of committee.
The other bills which were also reported out were a bill directing the Thruway Authority to lower tolls for motorcyclists, and another bill directing the Triboro Bridge Authority to offer the same discount to motorcyclists that car drivers now receive when pre-purchasing E-Z Pass trips. I don't recall any mention of the Accident Reporting bill at this time. These two bills will be forwarded to the Senate Finance Committee, while the Helmet Law Amendment will most likely be held by Senator Johnson while He, Prospector, Larry, Mike, Me, and You - every last one of you, aggressively lobbies our Senators, for their support.
Call or write your Senator letting them know that this has passed the Transportation Committee and ask him if he would support it at a Senate Vote. If your Senator says he will vote for the bill, Senator Johnson needs to know about it. If your Senator seems likely to support it but you don't feel you were fully able to convince him, let us know so we can have Prospector and Larry visit their office. If you just feel too unprepared to even enter into a discussion with your Senator, call us at ABATE R.R.F. Inc so we can mail you our position paper on helmets and offer lobbying tips and assist you in any way we can. And finally, When you come to Albany on May 17th for the Helmet protest, GO INSIDE AND SEE YOUR SENATOR. Otherwise, you can't really say you were there. You went to the battle and stayed in your tent while your bros fought; You took a really cool, helmet-free ride at the expense of someone else's labor, You showed your support for us and your unwillingness to help yourself.
Our time is now, by summer, the fight will be over with for this year and we will have won, or lost - but it's up to us.
And one final note to our biggest enemy, the countless bikers who have said they don't help because we "will never get New York to repeal the helmet law" - Go &%$# in your hat. We got this out of Senate Transportation and we can get it out of the full Senate. We can pass it through the full Senate and we can pass it through the Assembly. . . . Thanks for your help.
Liberty Through Unity
ABATE R.R.F Inc
Political Action Committee
Protecting Motorcyclist's Rights
P.O. Box 1155
Riverhead, N.Y. 11901