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Committee rejects bill to remove helmet requirement

CHARLESTON — W.Va. Senate Bill 298 would have changed state code addressing autocycles and eliminated the helmet requirement.

Senate Transportation and Infrastructure Committee discussed SB 298 but ultimately rejected the bill, citing rider safety.

Sponsored by Sen. Sue Cline, R-Wyoming, the sought to clarify that helmets are not required when riding an autocycle, as defined in the code, and to amend the definition of “autocycle” by striking steering wheel in the definition.

Harry Anderson, ATV/MSP programs coordinator for the West Virginia DMV, spoke to the bill. In terms of the definition, Anderson gave examples of an autocycle as Polaris Slingshot, Arcimoto, which has handle bar steering, and Elio motors.

This week was the committee’s first meeting of the 2020 Legislative Session.

Vice Chairman Chandler Swope, R-Mercer, took leadership of the committee for Chairman Charles H. Clements, R – Wetzel. Senator Swope recognized the new committee member John R. Pitsenbarger (R- Nicholas, 11) and the Committee staff.

The committee also heard testimony on SB 249, but rejected the bill.

SB 249 would have authorized law enforcement to make safety inspections of commercial vehicles. It was opposed with testimony by Linda Boudette from the Public Service Commission and Bob Blankenship Director of Transportation.

Blankenship said his office provides the safety inspection training and has trained numerous officers over the years. Blankenship described the rigorous requirements of acquiring and maintaining the inspection certification and stated that to date only three out of the 25 most recently certified officers trained have maintained their inspection capabilities. Blankenship noted that his department is bound by federal government guidelines to prevent faulty inspections.

The Committee unanimously opposed the bill.

∫ SB 171 exempting certain automobiles 25 years or older from personal property taxation received unanimous approval and will move to the Transportation Committee.

∫ The Creating “Choose Life” special registration plate supporting adoption SB 23 was removed from the agenda.

∫ The committee adopted Senate Concurrent Resolution 3 to name the Richard A. “Dick” Smoot Memorial Bridge. Master Sergeant Perry was a Retired US Army Veteran having served in Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq.