Being politically active gets results

So about two weeks ago I was reading an article from the January issue (starting on page 42) of American Motorcyclist magazine about the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, also known as the Lead Law, that restricts the amount of lead that can be in products intended to be sold for/to children under the age of 12.  This law was passed last year and sounds like a good thing, right?  Well, it is, for the most part.  We don’t want kids eating toys with lead in them.

The problem is that it wasn’t thought through, like so many other laws we have passed anymore.  This law has the unfortunate side effect of making basically all youth-model motorcycles and ATVs illegal to sell due to the amount of lead used in the construction of motorcycle engines (amongst other parts).  Here’s the real kicker.  When this issue was brought up, Congress acknowledged that this was an unintended consequence and issued a year long exemption from the law to see if something could be done about it in a more permanent fashion.  So the American Motorcyclist Association took the fight to the people in charge of the council that would be able to change this.  Guess who that is?  West Virginia’s senators, Rockefeller and Byrd.  Guess what the AMA was told by Rockefeller when they had their appointment?  That he didn’t think children should be riding motorcycles anyway.  How much bull $hit is that?!

Obviously I got fired up.  I don’t even have kids, but I sure as there is a Heaven want any future ones to be able to ride a dirt-bike that is appropriately sized for them if they should want to!  So I wrote my governor, Joe Manchin III, who happens to be an avid motorcyclist, a letter to see if there is anything his office is doing or can do to try and help get this changed.  Then I went onto the AMA’s Facebook page and told them I was a West Virginian and was disappointed that my senators were the ones responsible for not letting an exemption be made and that I had written my governor a letter about it.  A few days later I get a Facebook friend request from someone I’ve never heard of.  So, doing the responsible thing, I clicked his name to see his profile.  It said his name was Bill Kresnak and he works for the AMA magazine as Government Affairs Editor.  Being surprised and curious, I confirmed his friend request.  A few minutes later I had a message from him that read as follows:

We want to use the comment you left on the AMA facebook page and your photo in [the March issue of] American Motorcyclist magazine.  Do we have your permission to do so?  Thanks.

I of course gave him my permission and am very excited to see my little facebook pic and quote in the March issue.  That’ll make two publications I’ve been quoted in now!  Woo hoo!

A day or so after this, AMA sent out an email with a link that auto-generates a letter to your appropriate representatives based on what zip code you enter.  I filled it out and sent additional emails to both of these senators (since I’m from  WV) and congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito.  Well guess what?  Two days ago I got a letter back from Congresswoman Capito!  It wasn’t a stamped signature either, it was hand signed.  WV bikers, let it be known that Shelley is concerned with the future of motorsports in this state and has cosponsored legislation to exempt off-highway vehicles (dirt bikes and such) and all-terrain vehicles (4-wheelers) from the Lead Law!  How cool is that?!  I haven’t written a thank you letter yet, but I will be.

I do urge you readers, regardless of what state you live in, to click the links above, read the article, enter your zip code and contact info, and send your representatives a letter stating that an exemption needs to be made.  We need YOUR voices to help ensure that our children and future children can enjoy these sports.  Even if they don’t compete in tournaments, how many families would like to go out into the woods on dirt bikes or 4-wheelers together with everyone on their own vehicle?  Think about it.  I hope you’ll see my point. Make your voice heard.  Together we can make a difference.

Keep the rubber side down, and your powder dry.

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