Today we complete the first full calendar quarter of reporting motorist-related activity that is passing through state and federal legislatures. The NMA Bill/Regulation Tracker (Bill Tracker) was introduced in the Winter 2019 issue of Driving Freedoms and went live on Motorists.org in early January when most states began new legislative sessions.
Only three months in and it has already been an interesting experience. We want to share a few takeaways. We also encourage you to provide feedback on any specific legislative activity you think should be covered in the Bill Tracker but isn’t.
Legislators are paying attention to motorist issues. That’s the good news. That’s also the bad news.
The large number of bills that met our screening criteria from Day 1 surprised us. At the time of this writing, there are 89 pieces of legislation posted in Bill Tracker. Over 300 more were reviewed and set aside as being too minor, too broad, or too far afield such as New Jersey’s Senate Bill 131 which would require transportation authorities to make advance notification of certain projects or operations expected to impede traffic, or West Virginia’s Senate Bill 54 which would allow the operation of small-engine mopeds without driver’s licenses. If only there were enough time in the day . . .
The Bill Tracker table can be sorted by any column and can be filtered by state or motorist issue to make searching efficient. Just as important, click on a row in the table to go to a legislative information page for that particular bill.
An example is the following screen capture of the NMA page for New York’s Senate Bill 40. SB 40, if enacted, would place restrictions on the use of data collected by automated license plate readers:
The red “Full Bill Text” link leads to the actual content of the bill along with details of the lawmakers who sponsored the legislation and the bill’s history as it winds through the (often torturous) legislative process.
While it may come as no surprise that the NMA opposes more of the posted bills than it supports─a fact that can be attributed largely to the concerted effort in several quarters to unconditionally lower speed limits and greatly expand the presence of automated enforcement cameras─there are many 2019 bills that we support. The count as of March 27th is 53 bills opposed and 36 supported in the Bill Tracker.
Only a few have been resolved, either passed or failed/withdrawn, in these early months of the 2019 legislative sessions. Here is a rundown of them. Embedded links lead to the respective NMA landing pages:
Bills Supported by the NMA that Passed
Georgia Senate Bill 25
Clarifies statutory language of when a driver is obligated to stop for a school bus
Utah House Bill 149
Traffic code amendments referring to lane splitting by motorcyclists
Bills Opposed by the NMA that Failed or were Withdrawn
Mississippi Senate Bill 2580
Authorizes sheriffs and deputies to use radar speed detection equipment
Utah Senate Bill 80
Forces drivers in the queue to turn left at traffic signals to stay out of the intersection until each turning vehicle ahead of them has made the turn
Virginia Senate Bill 1555
Allows counties to double fines for speed limit violations on non-limited access highways having four or more lanes
Bills Supported by the NMA that Failed or were Withdrawn
Maryland House Bill 32
Would prohibit the Motor Vehicle Administration from basing a suspension or revocation of the registration of a vehicle on the vehicle owner’s failure to have the vehicle inspected and tested as required under the Vehicle Emissions Inspection Program
Maryland House Bill 984
A lane courtesy bill
North Dakota House Bill 1264
Would allow 75 mph speed limits on paved, divided multi-lane highways (unless otherwise restricted) and 80 mph on access-controlled, paved, divided multi-lane highways under the same provisions
North Dakota House Bill 1442
Would prohibit police from setting up DUI roadblocks to detain and question motorists without any reason to believe they are engaged in wrongdoing
Bills Opposed by the NMA that Passed
Check out the NMA’s Bill Tracker and let us know what you think. If you’d like to help search for and analyze legislative activity in your state, we’d like to know that too. It would be valuable to have more resources to broaden our coverage, although moped licensing will probably still fall outside of our bailiwick.