NEBRASKA LEGISLATURE

LINCOLN — There will be another debate this year on repealing Nebraska's motorcycle helmet law, though senators predict it will face a filibuster.

The Legislature's Transportation and Telecommunications Committee voted 5-1, with one abstention, on Friday to advance Legislative Bill 900.

The bill, which has been selected by State Sen. Dave Bloomfield of Hoskins as his priority bill, would repeal the state's much-debated motorcycle helmet requirement for those 21 and older and would set up a "brain injury trust fund" to help meet the needs of those who suffer brain injuries.

The trust fund would be funded by a $19 increase in motorcycle registration fees, which is expected to generate about $1 million in funding a year.

Hastings Sen. Les Seiler, the lone vote against the bill, lampooned the legislation as allowing motorcycle riders to ditch their helmets so they can go out and "get hurt."

"The first accident will bankrupt our fund," Seiler said.

Hyannis Sen. Al Davis, who voted yes on advancing the bill, raised another concern — that helmet-wearing motorcyclists will be forced to pay an extra $19 a year in registration fees so others can ride without helmets.

Bellevue Sen. Tommy Garrett, a motorcycle rider who said he wears a helmet, made the motion to advance LB 900. He said Bloomfield had satisfied many of his concerns about repealing the helmet requirement, adding "you can't stop people from being stupid."

Such repeal bills have been met with filibusters in the past that have killed the measures. Just after Friday's vote, two senators said it was guaranteed that the bill would again be filibustered.

A filibuster raises the number of votes needed to advance a bill from a simple majority — 25 — to 33 of the 49 state senators.

Because the bill has a priority designation, it's nearly certain that the measure will be debated by the full Legislature this year.

Contact the writer: 402-473-9584, paul.hammel@owh.com

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