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Move to lift Md. helmet law dies in committee

February 24, 2000

ANNAPOLIS - Despite the support of two local lawmakers, an effort to repeal Maryland's motorcycle helmet law failed in a House of Delegates committee Thursday.

Del. Louise V. Snodgrass, R-Frederick/Washington, and Del. Christopher B. Shank, R-Washington both voted for the repeal.

But it died by a 7 to 14 vote of the House Commerce and Government Matters Committee.

Gary "Pappy" Boward of Cavetown, executive director of the state's largest motorcycle group, testified last week that riders want the freedom to choose. He could not be reached for comment Thursday.

A Brotherhood Against Totalitarian Enactments (ABATE), has been trying to repeal the law since it passed in 1992.

Committee members who voted against the repeal said they were moved by the medical professionals who testified about the brain damage that can occur when a rider crashes without a helmet.

"What we're doing is trying to save lives," said Committee Chairman Del. John L. Wood Jr., D-Calvert/St. Mary's.

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Wood said his son and daughter-in-law tried to convince him otherwise. While he sympathizes, he couldn't support a repeal, he said.

Supporters of the repeal argued that they should have the freedom to choose.

"This is an issue of freedom, not body parts," Snodgrass said.

- Laura Ernde

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