Opponents of an effort to repeal the state mandatory motorcycle helmet law talked the bill to death.
Supporters fell nine votes short of what they needed to end a filibuster in the Unicameral and force a vote on LB 31. The move effectively kills the legislation for the session.
Sen. Ken Haar of Malcolm stated he understands the argument by supporters who say motorcyclists deserve the freedom to choose whether to wear a helmet or not.
“We make decisions in this body as leaders about reasonable regulation. And that is going to be something we disagree on. So, we have to debate it and we have to vote on it,” Harr said during legislative floor debate. “In my judgment it’s a reasonable restriction of individual freedom and I realize that.”
Debate began last week and spilled into the beginning of this week. Once the time of debate reached eight hours, the Speaker of the Legislature granted a motion by Sen. Dave Bloomfield of Hoskins, the bill sponsor, to vote on cutting off debate and moving to a vote.
The Unicameral voted 24-18-4 to end debate, nine votes short of the 33 needed to end the filibuster and go to a vote.
Legislative debate on the effort ranged from the emotional to the analytical. Opponents of repeal wove tales of injury and death. Supporters spoke of personal freedom. Both sited competing studies that reached differing conclusions.
As the debate wound down, Sen. Dave Bloomfield of Hoskins told colleagues not to listen to emotional arguments in favor of the helmet law, to vote to end the filibuster, and to pass his bill.
“Colleagues, they’re grasping at straws,” Bloomfield stated. “Any little thing that might scare you a little bit, ‘Oh, my God, the world is going to come to an end if we do away with this helmet (law).”