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ABATE of SC State Coordinator Report: July 1, 2006

We all have been hearing the recent negative press about motorcycle deaths increasing in South Carolina.  Oddly no one is publicly slamming the most responsible person. Our beloved Governor Sanford cut funding to our SC Riders Ed program early in his first term. The death rate of novice riders of all ages has been increasing since Sanford’s veto. I suggest it maybe wise for ABATE of SC to champion increased funding of rider training. I further suggest we can do this without increasing taxes on our motorcycles; Right of Way violators could pay an additional fee on tickets to be placed in a fund for rider training.

There seems to be resistance both in ABATE and the general populace of our state to criminal charges for Right of Way violators. Moreover our state constitution requires malice intent to make such charges. I suggest it would be a hard sell to convict a soccer mom or grandma for killing a biker just because she was not paying attention due to unruly kids or a cell phone conversation. However MADD has already been successful in adding fees to tickets to fund their objectives; we can do the same for rider training and motorcycle awareness.

Traffic sensors that fail to detect motorcycles at intersections are another issue that demands our attention. Due to dirty politics our bill to address this problem died in committee. However SCDOT finally started correcting some of the sensors we reported; prior to our bill they simply ignored all the reports of defect sensors I reported. I suggest we again form a team lead by Reb to introduce a new bill to address this situation. If we omit the word motorcycle from the bill we may increase our odds of success.

Discrimination of motorcyclists is increasing in places like Myrtle Beach and to a lesser degree Charleston. If we allow the discrimination to go unchallenged it will likely spread to other areas. Some of our racist brothers seem inclined to suffer under Jim Crow style laws just so blacks can be legally discriminated in Myrtle Beach. I am not willing to be discriminated upon or treated like a third class citizen just so a few rednecks can have their way with bikers of another color. I have yet to see any proof of the hearsay stories justifying the poor treatment of black bikers.  I challenge anyone who disagrees with me to prove otherwise.

A bill to address the youth gang problem is not going away. Motorcyclists need to be wary of this legislation as law enforcement is looking for new tools to deal with bikers and motorcycle clubs. The proposed legislation will target groups raising money through illegal means for the group rather than personal gain. While you may not think this could impact you or your organization I suggest otherwise. Poker runs are illegal in South Carolina and this means the legislation if passed could be used against groups such as ABATE, Shriners, and Southern Cruisers at the sole discretion of the police or local officials. Refer to the previous paragraph if you doubt it could happen.

I have discussed the issues of the gang bill and poker runs with Senator Jake Knotts; he has promised to work with us to legalize poker runs prior to passing a gang bill. I suggest we would be wise to work with Jake in the drafting of the gang bill to make sure it will not unfairly target bikers.

While it took two years of bickering to implement our automated phone tree I rather doubt anyone would question its effectiveness.  We passed two bills in record time using this new tool. Furthermore we directly impacted the race for Lt Gov using our calling list during the Republican Primary Runoff. We have other new and innovative tools ready to come online. I sincerely hope that we will not allow obstructionists within our group to delay their implementation for another two years. Several of our past obstructionists have quit ABATE but our membership numbers are now higher than at any time in the past. Whether the increase is due to more press, success, or less bickering it is certainly welcomed.

Our new position of Media Coordinator has greatly improved the quality and quantity of press in relation to ABATE and the motorcycle lobby in South Carolina. I would argue that it has resulted in the creation of several new chapters in various parts of our state. Ed has served ABATE well as our first Media Coordinator.

Frankie is now studying a new tool to help our average members become acquainted with their legislators and staff at the statehouse. The purpose of ABATE has always been to impact the legislature and defend our rights. What better way can we spend our funds than in the course of accomplishing these objectives. A sit down meal in a casual setting is a great way to make friends. Legislators are just like anyone else. They are more trusting of friends than those paid to influence them such as paid lobbyists. Would you take the word of a used car salesman or a trusted friend that works on cars for a living? Your legislator is more likely to trust a friend that has ridden for years than a paid lobbyist that has never ridden when considering legislation impacting motorcycling.

I ask each of you to keep an open mind during the upcoming legislative session. I ask that you not oppose new tactics simply because they have not been used in the past. Hold your heads high, take the hat out of your hand and put it on your head. We are going to kick some ass in the next session.

Have I done all that I can for biker rights? HELL NO but I am still trying!

FastFred Ruddock
State Coordinator
ABATE of South Carolina

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