Here's an update on what actually transpired on Thursday from a fellow Ape owner who was there and was kind enough to not only speak his mind but share with everyone else. This bill is NOT dead by any means so we all need to be vigilant.
This is a direct quote from his posting on the Aprilia forum and a response to me stating I don't trust Carlos as far as I could throw him:
"You are absolutely correct in your assessment of his character. The big change to the ammendment was to increase the speed from 30 over to 50 over. Here is basically what transpired at the hearing.
COMMITTEE ON INFRASTRUCTURE - HEARING FOR HOUSE BILL 137
JANUARY 10, 2008
HOUSE BUILDING, RM 404
Here's a recap from this morning's hearing on HB 137. All quotes are as I
remember them, as I did not have a tape recorder with me. All internet links
and email addresses are listed at the bottom of this message.
I arrived at 8:30AM for the hearing, which was to begin at 9:00AM. The room
was empty except for the committee secretary, who was more than happy to
accept my request to speak. Out of perhaps 75 seats, only 25 were filled by
the time the meeting started.
Representative Carlos Lopez-Cantera...
2300 Coral Way
Miami, FL 33145-3511
Phone: (305) 442-6877
..the author of this bill, gave his intro
to the bill and stated that he had issued a "strike-through", meaning he had
changed the wording, and the initial submission was no longer valid.
However, all he changed was the speed limit offense to more than 50 miles
per hour over the speed limit, up from 30mph. I was unaware of this change
and therefore did not have a copy of this revised bill.
Mr. Lopez-Cantera then played a video created by a news team in Miami, on
Sportbike riders pulling wheelies at high speed on public roadways. In the
video, two tickets were given out. Riders were interviewed. Statements like,
"it's like a drug to me, the need for speed," and, "I just pay the ticket,
no big deal."
After the video, an officer from Miami spoke to the committee. Mostly he
provided testimony on accident history. One in particular was about a woman
who was killed in her SUV when a Sportbike rider slammed into her at a high
rate of speed. His bike went through the driver's compartment. There was no
mention of whether the woman violated his right-of-way. He spoke of how the
woman's infant was not in the car seat, but underneath the passenger seat on
the floor, gaining a considerable amount of sympathy from the committee.
Questions for him from the committee members presented the first indication
of where this hearing would lead.
Representative Susan Bucher felt the drag racing laws already covered this
issue and wanted to know if this current law excluded motorcycles. Mr.
Lopez-Cantera did not know the answer and stated he had not researched that
law. She clearly thought the bill was redundant with respect to speeding.
She also wanted to know why they couldn't put a helmet law repeal into the
whole package, as she feels helmets will save more lives, and is needed. She
later stated that motorcyclists who did not wear helmets were just organ
donors. Though she didn't like this bill, I didn't get any warm and fuzzies
from her either.
Another Representative, Greg Evers, testified that he was dead set against
this bill. He had received an email where the author described a scenario by
which a motorcyclist could be arrested for erroneous reasons (by harassment
or profiling). The author then stated at the end of the email, "I know all
this, because I'm a cop". It struck a cord with him, Mr. Evers said. He
seemed to grasp the entire concept of why this bill is so discriminating.
I was first up from the audience to speak in opposition to the bill. I
presented my case from the standpoint that the bill was discriminatory, and
that confiscation of private property was unconstitutional, and from a
fairness standpoint as well (motorcyclists vs. all drivers). The bill, I
said, should be written to include all drivers because, yes, I agreed,
stiffer penalties are needed for reckless driving.
The first question I was asked was, do I think permanently confiscating a
motorcycle is too harsh of a punishment. To which I said, yes, without a
doubt, not when right-of-way violators, DUI offenders and other reckless
driving, kills without equal punishment.
The second question asked was how would I propose stopping these stunt
riders from violating speed laws. To which I replied, our tax money would be
better spent finding a way to catch them. One suggestion made by Mr.
Lopez-Cantera was to make it a high fine punishment for not having your
license plate permanently affixed, so Sportbike riders could not take them
off. This is how they get away; they can't later be identified by video.
I also said, I don't like it when they do this either, but it happens much
less often than reckless driving of auto drivers, and shouldn't we work on
making stiffer punishment for all reckless drivers, instead of singling out
I was also asked if I thought more graduated punishment would be acceptable,
and I said yes it would, but only if the bill is written to include all
motor vehicles, not just motorcycles.
Next up to speak was a representative from ABATE, who basically repeated all
of the same points.
Last to speak was Winn Peeples, who represents motorcycle dealers in
Florida. He also said that most of what he wanted to say, had already been
covered, but added that dealers are also 100% opposed to this bill. He sited
the revenue netted in Florida by the sale of motorcycles. Financing
institutions would not finance a motorcycle in Florida if this bill passes.
I believe that Greg Evers approached Mr. Lopez-Cantera privately and offered
to defer the bill, rather than kill it, if Lopez-Cantera would agree. I
could not hear what was said, so this is purely speculation, but shortly
after that private conversation, Evers approached the Chairman on the side,
and the motion to vote on a deferment was issued. The committee favorably
voted to defer the bill to a later date.
Final note: At first I was discouraged that I saw no local support from area
Bikers. But Winn Peeples and I agreed that those of us who were there, was
enough to work constructively in the time alotted, and push HB 137 back to
the drawing board. That and Representative Greg Evers. Winn was there on
behalf of Florida's dealers. I was there for myself, and for all of
Florida's freedom fighters who couldn't be there.
SO WHAT NOW? IT'S ALL GOOD RIGHT?
Sorry. Let's be clear. This bill is NOT dead. And it *could* come up on the
agenda again, though it is less likely to now than before, not without a
rewrite. Below is a summary of each Representative and my perceived
*opinion* of their position, based on what was heard today.
Representatives Richard Glorioso, Gary Aubuchon, Jimmy Patronis, Greg Evers
and Nick Thomspon were all in favor of rewriting this bill to a broader
degree; to include ALL motorists, and for stiffer penalties for reckless
driving, but with graduated punishments employed. Nick Thompson initially
wanted to kill the bill, as did Greg Evers. They all need to hear we support
them and appreciate their proposed vision.
Representative Ed Hooper wants to see offending Sportbike riders punished
severely but conceded that a graduated punishment was better than none. He
could be pushed over to our side, maybe. He also had a personal "story" to
tell about a death on a motorcycle.
Representative Scott Randolph was sympathetic to our position, but felt
there was a need and agreed with a rewrite. He seems to be "on the fence".
He needs to hear from us also.
Representative Susan Bucher I believe would have voted no, as she seemed to
feel this bill was redundant, though she is no biker advocate. And though
she bears watching, I believe she will not be a contender.
Representative Steve Precourt would have voted in favor of the bill as it
stands. He needs to be inundated with emails and letters of opposition. He
needs to see just how many of us vote here in Florida, and how many
supporters there for our cause in this country.
Representative Michael Scionti was not present due to a recall back to
active military duty.
First order of business - send a thank you letter or email to Representative
Greg Evers. What he did today was show 100% support in our favor. Let him
know you were watching and waiting, and you appreciate his position. He was
against "motorcycles only" and against the confiscation of personal
Second order of business - email or call the rest.
The opportunity to rewrite this bill to be a huge benefit to all
motorcyclists and include all drivers is an enormous boon to come out of
this. I have been asked to help draft the bill in the right way, for all.
There is a lot of work left to be done here before anyone can breathe a sigh
There will be NO COMPROMISE on discriminatory wording, or confiscation. The
bill will include all motorists or face strong opposition. Those on the
committee who want to see this happen have stated their position clearly in
favor of this. Still, don't let your guard down, don't fall back, hold the