Posted by Elly Blue (Columnist) on February 25th, 2009 at 1:32 pm
Last week we reported on State Representative Jules Bailey‘s proposed bill to create a new vehicle weight class that would include bicycles and to base traffic fine amounts on the weight class of offenders’ vehicles.
If passed, the law would have meant a dramatic decrease in the amount of fines for most traffic violations by people on bicycles. However, it now looks like that bill is going to have to wait until another legislative session.
In an email to me earlier this week, Bailey wrote that the draft of the bill that came out of the Legislative Counsel (LC, where all bill proposal are written up and become real bills), “simply allowed juries to make judgments about lowering fines for bicycles. This is not at all what I intended. It [the bill he got back from LC] has nothing about vehicle weight.”
Bailey’s office received the bill draft on Saturday. The final deadline for submitting bill ideas for drafting was this week, so there was no time to resubmit it.
The option of amending the bill is also off the table. Here why, according to Bailey (emphasis mine):
“Normally if a bill is bad, you can amend it in committee process, but only along the lines of the relating clause. However, the relating clause is “relating to bicycles” which prevents any amendments that deal with vehicle weight in general, which was the intent of the bill. So basically there are few options left to get a comprehensive bill relating to vehicle weight. I think it makes more sense to get something prepared, with stakeholders, for the next session.
It will be interesting to see how and if the idea of weight-based traffic fines picks up steam, and who will end up going to bat for it the next time it comes around.