Today, the Senate Transportation Committee adopted the bikers' bill by a 6-3 vote. To let their hair blow in the wind, bikers have to be at least 25 years old, take a safety class and buy $200,000 worth of medical coverage. That last item is important since we'll wind up scraping a lot of these helmet-less cyclists off the asphalt.
Motorcycle deaths on America's highways jumped from roughy 3,200 in 2002 to 4,500 in 2010. At the same time, not coincidentally, some 28 states weakened or eliminated their motorcycle helmet laws. Studies also have shown there are billions of dollars in costs to the public from lost worker productivity and unpaid medical bills.
Our senators didn't ignore all those facts. They just made up their own facts to counter those actual facts. It won't cost the public anything to let motorcyclists ride without helmets because the bikers will die when they wreck, reasoned Sen. Frank Niceley, R-Hollow Stump near Strawberry Plains.
“You know, if you’re not wearing a helmet, you’re in the morgue," he said. "That’s bad and that’s terrible, but it’s not something where we’re worrying about dollars here. We can’t worry about that side of it.”
A side note on today's action: This is the beginning of the Big Revolt of the GOP's nutty right wing. Gov. Bill Haslam flagged this bill, advising the legislature not to adopt it. In the past, it would have been almost unthinkable for the governor to flag a bill, then watch as his own party passed it anyway, basically flipping him off in the process. Yes, the barbarians are at the gates.