A push to require all motorcyclists to wear helmets in Louisiana – bogged down in the House for weeks before getting approved this week – easily speeded through a Senate committee Wednesday, receiving unanimous approval and moving to the full Senate, which already has agreed to a similar bill.
“It gives me great pleasure to vote for your bill to put (the law) back where it should be,” said Sen. Tom Schedler (R-Mandeville).
No one spoke in opposition to the bill by Rep. Clara Baudoin (D-Carencro), during the Senate Judiciary C Committee meeting, which lasted about five minutes.
But opponents have called the measure an infringement on people’s rights and that helmets offer little real protection for riders.
Gov. Kathleen Blanco has stepped into debate, offering her support for Baudoin’s bill as the legislative session winds down. It must end by Monday.
Approval of Baudoin’s bill would effectively repeal a 1999 law pushed by former Gov. Mike Foster, an avid motorcyclist. The Foster-backed law allowed anyone over 18 to ride without a helmet if they had at least $10,000 of bodily injury insurance.
A separate piece of compromise legislation is on the House floor in case the Senate won’t go along with Baudoin’s bill. The compromise would allow anyone 21 or older to ride without a helmet after completing an approved motorcycle riding course and obtaining a motorcycle endorsement on their drivers’ licenses. The rider also would have to obtain an “M” sticker for the motorcycle’s license plate.
Baudoin’s bill is filed as House Bill 109 and can be found at www.legis.state.la.us
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