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Senate kills helmet law repeal

March 10, 1999|By LAURA ERNDE

ANNAPOLIS - The Maryland Senate has killed a proposed repeal of the state's motorcycle helmet law.

But supporters were encouraged by the effort, which failed for the lack of four Senate supporters.

The motorcycle rights group ABATE of Maryland Inc. has been trying to repeal the law since it was passed in 1992.

For the first time, the repeal was approved by a committee of the Maryland General Assembly, which is a significant achievement, said Director Gary "Pappy" Boward of Cavetown.

When the measure got to the Senate floor, it failed by a vote of 20 to 27.

"Of course, we wish it would have gone further, but we're happy," Boward said.

Sen. Alex X. Mooney, R-Frederick/Washington, said the Judicial Proceedings Committee likely will bring the debate back to the Senate floor next year.

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"This is not the end of the debate. This is really the beginning of the debate on a new level," Mooney said.

Both Mooney and Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington, were co-sponsors of the bill.

Members of ABATE now know who the opponents are and will lobby them, Boward said.

This year, as in previous years, ABATE's efforts were opposed by state and federal transportation officials, insurance companies and emergency medical directors statewide.

The helmet law is no longer a requirement to get federal highway money.

Del. Louise V. Snodgrass, R-Frederick/Washington, said she was sorry the repeal effort failed.

As a motorcycle passenger, she supports the right of riders to choose, she said.

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