SB 583 - Helmet Law Reform
For information, contact:
Ken Ray (503) 645-3376, or
Brian Stovall (541) 298-1317

For Immediate Release:

Today, the Oregon House Transportation Committee, in a 5-5 tie vote,
effectively killed SB 583, which would have amended Oregon's helmet law to
apply only to riders age 21 and older. In order to pass this committee, we
needed 6 "yes" votes.

On Monday, May 10, the Committee held its first hearing on the bill.
Testimony and questioning by Committee members was lengthy, and Chair
Montgomery announced that the bill would be carried over into work session
on Wednesday, May 12, where additional invited testimony would be heard.

As the Committee members gradually arrived for today's 8:00 a.m. hearing, a
representative from the Governor's office presented a letter from Doctor
Kitzhaber to the Committee members. The text of the letter appears at the
end of this release. Testimony and questioning of witnesses by Committee
members was again lengthy. After all had been heard, Rep. Jeff Kropf moved
to send the bill to the floor with a do pass recommendation. Several
committee members spoke about their reasons for their positions on the
bill; then Montgomery called for the vote.

Voting "yes" were Chair Bob Montgomery (R-56), Jeff Kropf (R-37), Jerry
Krummel (R-27), Jane Lokan (R-25) and Larry Wells (R-30).

Voting "no" were Vice Chair Mike Lehman (D-47), Richard Devlin (D-24), Jim
Hill (R-5), Jackie Taylor (D-1) and Vicki Walker (D-41). Lehman stated that
while he personally was inclined to support the measure, the vote of the
people in passing the helmet law referendum in 1988, and the Governor's
letter today, convinced him that he should vote against it.

The text of Dr. Kitzhaber's letter follows:

Chair Montgomery and Members of the House Transportation Committee:

Senate Bill 583 A-Engrossed would repeal the motorcycle helmet law for
riders 21 years of age and older. While I respect the desire of motorcycle
riders to choose whether to wear helmets, maintaining the current law is
clearly in the best interest of the citizens of Oregon.

As an emergency room physician, I know the physical, emotional and
financial damage caused by motorcycle crashes. I also know that riders
wearing helmets are often spared the worst outcome: a lifetime brain injury.

This knowledge is supported by current research, including the "1999 Report
of the Motorcycle Helmet Technical Review" issued by the Oregon Health
Policy Institute. The Institute, a coalition comprised of Oregon Health
Sciences University, Oregon State University and Portland State University,
was created by the Legislature to advise lawmakers on health policy. The
conclusion is inescapable that helmets save lives, prevent injuries, save
tax dollars and limit insurance premiums. If our helmet law were to be
repealed the number of head injury patients that are covered by the Oregon
Health Plan and by private insurance companies will undoubtedly increase,
therefore passing substantial costs on to tax payers and those who pay for

I strongly oppose SB 583 A-Engrossed in its current form.

Sincerely, John A. Kitzhaber, M.D.


BikePAC of Oregon, Inc.
PO Box 5612
Salem, OR 97304
PAC #00019


May 12, 1999
For information, contact:
Ken Ray (503) 645-3376, or
Brian Stovall (541) 298-1317.

Written by Brian Stovall (541) 298-1317

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