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Emergency Lobby Day Tuesday March 9, 2004 Report

Bikers and ABATE of SC members began arriving at the state capitol before 9 a.m. Tuesday morning. We met and discussed the morning's strategy between the Gressette building and the Statehouse; bikers from various counties were represented including Sumter, Barnwell, Lexington, Georgetown, Newberry, Berkeley, and Charleston but many others would arrive before the session convened. Governor Sanford saw us gathered and walked over to say hello although he was late for a meeting. We gave the Governor a letter personally addressed to him outlining ABATE's stance against primary seat belt enforcement.

Following the Governor's departure for his meeting we divided into groups. Barnwell members set off to lobby Hutto; Barnwell's senator is a major proponent of primary seat belt enforcement and he has not been answering letters or questions from his constituents. Others joined me as I set off to visit all of the senators one by one.

The group of biker patriots and I began our tour of the senate offices on the first floor and worked our way to the sixth floor one office at a time. As we visited the senator offices we left letters with each and every senator. The first stop was senator McConnell's office where we left a letter of thanks. Next we stopped by senator Leatherman's office and hear noise and saw senators towards the back of the building. We walked around the 1st floor to the back of the building and found many senators in the hallway on their way to a meeting about tort reform; many senators nearly got whiplash upon seeing so many bikers walking the halls.

Never underestimate lobbying together because when a dozen bikers walk into an office and lobby people take notice.

As we toured the building our friends such as senators Knotts, Branton, and Ravenel came out of their offices to greet us. Senator Branton alerted us that two doctors were both donating 6 figure digits in an effort to unseat him. Senator Branton has been a friend to bikers in SC for years; bikers should consider supporting him and attending a rally on his behalf in May.

We spoke at length with senator Giese who currently supports the seat belt bill; if you live in Kershaw or Richland County please lobby your senator. Senator Giese is not on our side yet but during our conversation it became clear he could oppose this bill but it will require considerable effort by his constituents. When you visit the Statehouse be sure to stop by his office and say hello.

After visiting every senator's office and leaving letters for all of our senators we walked to our bikes to feed the meters. We arrived to the street just in time to meet more bikers from Dorchester and Colleton Counties ; Berkeley/Dorchester likely sent the most bikers to this lobby day and most for the second trip this year to lobby. They divided into four groups and each took a floor of the senate to deliver letters to all senators; they brought letters opposing the seat belt bill and other letters supporting ABATE's bills.

We also visited the Lt. Governor's office and left another letter stating opposition to the seat belt bill and loss of liberty. Upon my arrival in the senate gallery I found even more bikers in attendance. Bikers from Aiken, Lancaster , and Richland had already visited their elected officials and were seated in the gallery.

Also seated in the gallery were the SCDOT lobbyist and a MD lobbying in favor of this bill. However the legislators decided not to debate the bill due to our presence. Senator Knotts was joined by other friendly senators including our good friend John Kuhn when he introduced the members of ABATE to the Senate. We filled many of the seats in the gallery at the time of our introduction; but some of our members had already left since the bill was not to be debated that day. The bill will go back to the floor of the senate on Saint Patrick's Day Wednesday March 17 th . Our enemies will be lobbying to take away our remaining liberties next week will you be there to stop them?

Other Lobby day gains: The House Right of Way Bill 3653 has gained an additional 20 co-sponsors. ABATE of SC members keep those letters and personal visits coming! The following representatives are sponsors of the right of way bill: Chellis, Young, Bailey, Clemmons, Altman, Hinson, Toole, Umphlett, Viers, Barfield, Miller, Edge, Merrill, Witherspoon, J.R. Smith, Stewart, Perry, E.H. Pitts, Cato, Hamilton , G.R. Smith, Battle , J. Brown, Rivers, Bowers, Clyburn, Martin, Ceips, Herbkersman, and Duncan . Thank the members of your ABATE chapter who attended the emergency lobby day; the results of their efforts speak for themselves.  

Lobby Day Wednesday March 10, 2004 Report

ABATE members from Anderson , Beaufort, Greenville , Horry, Jasper, Lancaster , Lexington , and Richland Counties lobbied the statehouse Wednesday in the second of two lobby days in one week. Due to some confusion some members were not aware they should attend the senate session and our impact was not as great as possible; we only had four bikers in the senate gallery to watch the session though many others were at the statehouse. However one senator from Horry County is reconsidering his support of primary seat belt enforcement. Senator Odell requests that those in opposition to the seat belt bill call and write him.

House members were lobbied in support of ABATE's right of way bill 3653. Representative Hay told those in attendance he would co-sponsor House Bill 3653. However the Chair of the House Judiciary Committee is opposing our right of way bill. Rather than sitting in the house gallery we need bikers and other concerned citizens to contact members of the House Judiciary Committee in support of H 3653.

~FastFred Ruddock - ABATE of SC State Coordinator

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