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ABATE of SC has the attention of our legislators

According to all reports ABATE of SC has the attention of the legislators at our state house. Most legislators claim to know what ABATE is and what we stand for. I would suggest that while we have their attention we press harder for the rest of our legislative agenda such as a tougher right of way bill. We have several issues that deserve more attention; bills that could negatively impact us include S1, S79, and S40. Current bills that may be beneficial to us include S102, H3049, and H3146.

Keep writing Governor Sanford requests to veto S1 the primary seat belt bill. It is not too late to write your senator and representative in opposition to S1; if the governor vetoes S1 we want to make sure there are not enough votes to override the veto. Let's make sure they know we are not a single-issue organization; write more letters on other subjects.

The Criminal Street Gang Prevention Act S79 sounds like a good idea until your read the contents of the bill. This bill could negatively impact more than just street gangs. S79 contains problematic language such as "a formal or informal ongoing organization, association, or group that consists of five or more persons…" The bill would allow any person to file for the eviction of those they may deem undesirable; this power to evict coupled with the ability to seize property could harm the property rights of many citizens. Consider its wording and intent: "…acquittal or dismissal in a criminal proceeding must not preclude civil proceedings…" Your property does not have constitutional rights in civil court where you would have to fight to regain it. The questionable use of informants to determine what is a gang-related incident is even more reason to oppose this poorly written legislation.

Red light cameras have been shown to increase accidents according to the NBC nightly news story aired Tuesday February 22, 2005. Studies have shown that during the past ten years Virginia has used red light cameras rear-end accidents increased by more than 15%. I have survived a rear-end accident on a motorcycle and it is no walk in the park like government official interviewed in that story implied. Virginia's legislature has voted to remove the cameras permanently by July. S40 would allow these same cameras to be used in South Carolina if passed into law. Letters opposing this legislation may be addressed to the members of the Senate Transportation Committee.

Senate bill S102 provides Purple Heart tags for motorcycles; this bill has passed the Senate and now resides in the Education and Public Works Committee. This bill is likely to pass the house soon but letters in support of it are encouraged.

H3049 and H3146 address discrimination based on motorcycle ownership or clothing. These bills have been introduced during many of the past legislative sessions; unless many South Carolina bikers begin lobbying for passage these bills are unlikely to make it out of committee. Another subject parallel to discrimination is the current law against Apehangers; you can help by lobbying to repeal handlebar height restrictions used to harass motorcyclists.

Over two dozen ABATE members attended the most recent subcommittee hearing for S1 but not nearly enough to stop the bill. We needed many more bikers and concerned citizens from Pickens County to stop this bill; the subcommittee chair represents Pickens County. To increase our effectiveness in the General Assembly we need to increase our membership in every part of the state. It is now easier than ever to join ABATE using our online membership form that accepts PayPal and major credit cards. I am personally requesting that each member of ABATE of SC recruit at least one new member this month.

While ABATE needs more chapters in all parts of the state it is important to remember we are all ABATE of SC members and to reduce the fractionalized mentality. Infighting and identifying more with one's chapter than our state organization only weakens our effectiveness against our real enemies; the enemies of liberty do not rest and will take advantage of any opportunities presented. Together we can create a stronger ABATE of SC that is capable of defeating the enemies of liberty.

FastFred Ruddock
ABATE of SC State Coordinator

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