Missouri helmet law repeal bogs down in Senate

Missouri helmet law repeal bogs down in Senate

Posted by Team Motorcycle on Jul 7th 2016

The Show-Me State’s House of Representatives approved a bill to repeal the state’s helmet law, for some riders, on a 97-57 vote.

It went to the Senate, where it was assigned to the “informal calendar.” That effectively killed the bill for that session of the General Assembly.

As sent to the Senate, the bill allows riders to go without a helmet if:

  • They are over 21.

  • They have medical insurance with a minimum of $50,000 in injury coverage.

Freedom of Road Riders (FRR), the largest motorcycle rights group in the state, lobbied for the bill in both chambers. It expects to continue to fight for a repeal when the legislature reconvenes.

FRR member Rhonda Felps told KMBC news that she wears a helmet and would continue to do so in some places. But, a helmet should be the rider’s choice, she said. “I want the right to choose, to take that helmet off, to cool off. To enjoy some wind in my hair, and just some freedom.”

As seen by the vote in the House, support was not uniform.

State Rep. Eric Burlison sponsored the legislation. In floor debate, he said, “You’re a responsible adult, it’s not our responsibility to tell you what you can and cannot do as long as you’re not harming me then I think that’s what this… where our laws should be intended is to make sure you and your freedom is not harming my freedom.”

Speaking in opposition State Rep. Keith Frederick said, “My concern is offloading the expense to the taxpayers, I don’t have anything against somebody else’s freedom but I think there is a point where your freedom to swing your arms ends at the tip of my nose and if it’s financial impact that our taxpayers are going to have I think we need to stand in that gap and prevent them from having that financial impact.”

Missouri has had a helmet law since 1967. Getting caught without a helmet puts a rider in line for a $25 fine. As of the end of July, Illinois, Iowa and New Hampshire are the only states without some sort of helmet law according to the Governors Highway Safety Association. Other states either require helmets or allow riders to choose if certain criteria are met.