NEWS FROM THE HILL – RPM Act, Ethanol & Black Boxes, OH MY! Plus Transportation, Infrastructure & Tolls!
Motorcycle Riders Foundation team in Washington, D.C.
Though Congress has only been back a few short weeks, a myriad of legislative proposals affecting motorcyclists have hit the floor…
RPM ACT – It was a one-two punch for motorcycle and race car enthusiasts when both the House and Senate reintroduced legislation from 2016; Recognizing the Protection of Motorsports Act a.k.a. the RPM Act. The bills protect Americans’ right to modify street cars and motorcycles into dedicated race vehicles and industry’s right to sell the parts that enable racers to compete. The necessity of the proposals became apparent after the EPA proposed a rule to establish Phase 2 regulations for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 2015. Within the 625-page rulemaking was one sentence that would have the effect of banning any conversion of street automobiles or motorcycles into racing vehicles. The language pertaining to race-modified street vehicles and motorcycles was included seemingly at random within a huge proposal having to do with cutting emissions from heavy- and medium-duty trucks. However, it would effectively outlaw part of the amateur car and motorcycle racing industry. Motorcyclists are hopeful that this is the year for the legislation to advance and ultimately be signed into law. For the House bill (H.R.350) Rep. McHenry (R-NC) is leading the effort whereas in the Senate, Senator Burr from North Carolina is leading the charge. On his website, Senator Burr listed the MRF as one of the supporting organizations among several other prominent organizations.
Research for Ethanol Effects – Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) introduced H.R. 777 in January; a measure very similar to what he introduced in 2015. This bill would require the National Academy of Sciences to provide a comprehensive assessment of research on the implications of the use of higher blends of ethanol compared to gasoline blends containing 10 percent or zero percent ethanol. The study would aim to evaluate the impact of higher blends of ethanol including those effects on motorcycles and their engines. A similar bill was introduced in the last Congress but failed to advance or gain wide support. It is expected that the issue of the pervasiveness of ethanol in the nation’s gasoline supply will again be a contentious issue this Congress with demographic splits among both Republicans and Democrats as how to handle growing concerns over the Renewal Fuel Standard mandated by law a decade ago.
Black Box Legislation Intro’d – Democrat Mike Capuano from Massachusetts introduced legislation that would require automobile manufacturers to disclose to consumers the presence of event data recorders, or “black boxes”, on new automobiles, and to require manufacturers to provide the consumer with the option to enable and disable such devices on future automobiles. H.R. 736 is related to apprehensions over Americans’ privacy rights – a concern that many motorcyclists share. Similar bills have been introduced in the past, though none have made it to the floor for a vote.
Activity in the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee – Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA) convened one of the first hearings of the powerful Transportation and Infrastructure Committee or “T&I Committee” this week. The purpose of which was to explore the importance of infrastructure to America’s job creators, and what sort of infrastructure investments must be made to prepare the Nation to take on the challenges of the 21st century. All of the witnesses and most members of Congress agreed that we need to spend more to improve our roads and bridges, and that private money / tax credits (i.e., tolling) alone will not get the job done. Your MRF was listed as one of the signatories and supporting organizations associated with the Alliance for Toll-Free Interstates or ATFI. The ATFI sent a comprehensive letter to members of the T&I committee in order to go on record to express concern over the over use of tolling as a ‘pay for’ for infrastructure development. For a copy of the letter, contact Megan Ekstrom – [email protected]
EXECUTIVE & REGULATORY UPDATES – New Secretary of Transportation Confirmed – EPA Administrator Still Under Fire
The Senate overwhelmingly voted to confirm Elaine Chao’s nomination to be Transportation secretary on Tuesday of this week – though six senators voted against her, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY). The confirmation is an important one; Chao will be the top influencer in what priorities DoT, NHTSA, and the Federal Highway Administration pursue over the next 4 years. She previously worked under the George W. Bush Administration serving as Secretary of Labor AND served as Deputy Secretary of Transportation. Notably, she is married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) which suggests there will be a VERY close working relationship between DoT and the Senate moving forward
President Trump’s nomination for the head of the EPA won’t face the smooth sailing that Chao did, however. Senate Democrats boycotted the necessary committee vote this week on Scott Pruitt’s nomination to lead the Agency, successfully delaying his confirmation, for the time being.
None of the Committee Democrats showed up to a necessary morning business meeting, denying Republicans the quorum that they needed to take a vote.
Scott Pruitt will have a key role in what the Agency decides to do over the growing concerns about ethanol; President Trump supported the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and corn ethanol when he campaigned in Iowa, but his pick of Scott Pruitt for the top EPA official as well as investor Carl Icahn as a regulatory adviser, raised eyebrows among the ethanol program’s backers. Both Pruitt and Icahn have been critical of the RFS in the past. Though congressional hearings on RFS legislation are possible, leadership in the House and Senate won’t be anxious to stir up a fight that will split the Republican caucus, so it’s possible that any legislation that would overhaul the program never gets floor time. Stay tuned…
Vice-President of Government Affairs & Public Relations qo66eemb4u
The Motorcycle Riders Foundation
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