State Legislative Director
William "Lion Man" Dodge

PO Box 313
Weston, Ohio 43569
330 718-3066
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William "LION MAN" Dodge
State Legislative Director

Legislative Director's Report
May 2023

    With riding season upon us, depending on the weather and your stamina, May is motorcycle awareness month. With the media notifications and our attempts to remind motorists that we are back out on the roads, do not count on them seeing you. Here in Region Zero, with the very mild end of winter/beginning of Spring, we have had near record setting accidents and homicides involving motorcyclists already. Please take care of yourself and your families by riding defensively, being alert, watching for those not watching for us, and riding sober!

    Getting prepared to start the anti-profiling bill has taken me longer to set up than I expected. But it is time to get moving on this! I have begun to reach out to the legislators in my region (Zero), that I am most familiar with, to run my initial ideas past. Most of them are aware that this legislation was coming from attending our regional meetings already. Once we get the official language approved, I will be putting it out for the state officers to approve and then we will be requesting everyone to reach out to the legislators in your area to sign on as co-sponsors. The State will focus on those legislators in non-active regions, to ensure all legislators are aware of our bill. So, get ready! WE WILL NEED EVERYONE'S HELP!!!

    By now most of you should be aware of the new distracted driving law in Ohio. As of April 4, 2023, it is illegal to use or hold a cell phone or electronic device in your hand, lap, or other parts of the body while driving on Ohio roads. If an officer sees a violation, they can pull you over.

    There are exceptions which you should familiarize yourself with as I am not going to cover them all right now. But one is that you can still hold a phone to your ear during phone conversations, if the call is started or stopped with a single touch or swipe. Now this obviously begs the question of how do police know how or when the call was initiated?

    So, you can be pulled over if a cop sees you with your cell phone in your hand, even though what you are doing is completely legal!

    When I talked to Representative Al Cutrona regarding this bill, before it became law, he stated that is mostly to prohibit texting and driving. As I have said before, and I told him, any bill is only as good as the wording. If it is meant for texting and driving, then write it that way.

    I believe that there is no group that hates distracted drivers as much as bikers! The one thing that we may hate more though, is ambiguous laws, like this one that says two things in one law. Don't make exceptions!!! Put the damn phone down!!!!

    As I have been reporting, many states are setting projected dates where all new vehicles sold must be zero emission by 2035, in effect, eliminating all Internal Combustion Engines.

    The Biden Administration recently rolled out plans shifting this country to a majority electric vehicle market over the next ten years.

    Republicans in Congress have responded. In March, Rep. John Joyce of Pennsylvania introduced H.R. 1435 the “Preserving Choice in Vehicle Purchases Act.” H.R. 1435 would amend the Clean Air Act to prevent a ban on the sale of internal combustion engines, effectively overriding any state law that outlaws their sale.

    In my opinion, H.R. 1435, which currently has 72 cosponsors, all Republicans, should not be a partisan issue. But then, as an independent voter I don't much care for partisan politics at all. If you would like to continue having your gasoline powered motorcycle or other vehicle, reach out to your U.S. congress person and ask them to represent you by cosponsoring H.R. 1435.

    Currently, in Ohio, Rep. Balderson, Troy [R-OH-12]; Rep. Miller, Max L. [R-OH-7]; Rep. Johnson, Bill [R-OH-6]; Rep. Turner, Michael R. [R-OH-10]; Rep. Wenstrup, Brad R. [R-OH-2]; and Rep. Carey, Mike [R-OH-15] are all cosponsors.

    On a lighter note, The Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF), will celebrate 50 years of providing rider education and training this year. To celebrate, the MSF Communications team has been collecting 50 stories from a diverse group of people with a wide variety of motorcycling backgrounds: new riders, longtime riders, Rider Coaches, influencers, members of the media and families to share their stories on the MSF website. If interested go to website under the NEWS tab for mor information.

    In case you didn't know, House Bill 154, which went into effect on March 21, 2017, amended The Ohio Revised Code section 4511.132, so that Ohio drivers are now permitted to go through a red light if it is malfunctioning or lasting an inordinate amount of time, as long as there is no oncoming traffic.

    However, the law requires drivers to come to a complete stop at the intersection and look for oncoming traffic.

    If an accident occurs, the burden of proof is on the driver who went through the red light to prove the light was malfunctioning. If the driver cannot prove the light was malfunctioning, he or she will be considered the at-fault driver.

    As always, if you have questions, comments, statements or information you think I should know, please feel free to contact me. Until next month, this is your State Legislative Director saying stay safe, and I hope to see you down the road!

    Lion Man

Legislative Director's Report
March 2023

    On February 1st, myself, Randy Kibler, "T. J". Johnson Sr, John & Bertie Morrissey, and Barb Tittle, members from Region Zero, attended a public meeting of the Ohio Turnpike Commission, where I made a presentation in an attempt to lower Ohio Turnpike tolls for motorcycles. We didn't expect much, as it is difficult for government as well as quasi government organizations to give up monetary funds they are receiving.

    Below is a copy of my written presentation, followed by the response I received from the Turnpike Commission. We will remain committed to follow up with continued correspondence to pursue this issue for the interest of all motorcyclists.

Below is a copy of my written presentation......

My name is William Dodge, but everyone knows me by my road name of Lion Man.

    I am the State Legislative Director for ABATE of Ohio Inc., a not-for-profit organization dedicated to preserving the rights, improving the image and promoting the safe operating practices of Ohio motorcyclists.

    We are here today, to discuss lowering turnpike tolls, for motorcycles.

    We believe this action would be appropriate for several reasons.

    Obviously, motorcycles are more lightweight than any other vehicle traveling on the turnpike. According to EPA data, the average weight of an automobile in 2022 was around 4,094 pounds.

    A standard street bike from Honda, for example, can weigh anywhere from 348 pounds for a smaller bike, up to a Honda Gold Wing which weighs 787 pounds.

    Harley-Davidson, which holds the title for producing some of the heaviest bikes manufactures bikes between 540 and 905 pounds.

    So even the heaviest motorcycle is just 1/4th the weight of an average automobile.

    Another point is that motorcycles alleviate congestion. The wheelbase of a Chevy Suburban for example is almost 11 feet, while the wheelbase of an average motorcycle is less than 5 feet. In Ohio it's legal for two motorcycles to travel side by side in the same lane. That's four to eight people on four vehicles in the space of one SUV. In other words, many more people than an SUV, at less weight.

    In these days of dissension regarding the use of fossil fuels, motorcycles have far less social and environmental impact then other vehicles. That Suburban gets an EPA combined gas mileage of 18 miles to the gallon. Motorcycles average about 40- 50 miles per gallon.

    I would like to call attention to precedents for toll reductions for motorcycles. In our area both New York and Maryland have toll rates reduced 50 percent for motorcycles. In the D.C./Virginia/Maryland Tri-state area, some toll roads have no tolls for motorcycles. Other states around the country have reduced rates for motorcycles on some roads, bridges and tunnels. Even the federal government has a 50% lower entrance fee for motorcycles at national parks.

    We believe that with motorcycles being, at most, about 1/4th of the weight of an average automobile, causing minimal wear and tear to the road surface, along with the social and environmental advantages, the reduction of congestion, and the precedent set by other states and the federal government, it would be reasonable to allow motorcycles to traverse the Ohio Turnpike at a reduced rate.

    Thank you for your consideration.

    I would also like to offer the services of ABATE of Ohio Inc. as the commission continues the implementation of its modernization of the Toll Collection System. With the eventual plan to remove gates and install new electronic technology for toll collections, we would like to be part of the discussion regarding the limitations of including motorcycles. EZ pass is difficult, and on many models, impossible to securely and safely place on a motorcycle.

    Thank you again.

    Response I received from the Turnpike Commission......

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    Lion Man

Legislative Director's Report
February 2023

    Well, it is mid-February and if you didn't make it to the Annual State Seminar, well you really missed out. It started off with a surprise of a free T-Shirt for attendees and it just got better from there. Friday night game night was enjoyable as well as Saturday's after seminar party was. Slider Gilmore, as usual, made a great informative presentation. Rod Taylor gave an inspiring speech about the need for members. And again, as usual, Rod talked more about everything except his topic. But his interaction with our State Secretary, Chris, was very entertaining. Rod may not stick to the topic, but he is always entertaining and humorous. Our keynote speaker at the dinner was Ohio House 58th District Representative Al Cutrona. He talked a little about our issues but opened it up to questions from the floor. Finally, one politician who is more interested in what his constituents want to know about, rather then what he wants them to know about.

    After Al spoke, I was humbled to be awarded this year's Lifetime Achievement Award, made more special by my good friend T. J. making the presentation to me. It has truly been an honor to have served Abate of Ohio Inc., Region Zero for over 32 years.

    It was a good weekend getaway and I thank everyone who made it. Next year I hope we will have even more people attend.

    On Jan. 3rd, Governor DeWine signed Senate Bill 288 into law, and it will go into effect after 90 days after his signature. Senate Bill 288 designates the use of cell phones and other electronic communications devices while driving as a primary traffic offense and allows law enforcement to immediately pull over a distracted driver upon witnessing a violation.

    Under the new law, a driver may still use their device in specific circumstances, such as when their vehicle is parked or stopped at a red light. Drivers are also permitted to swipe their phones to answer a call and to hold their phones to their ears during phone conversations. Emergency calls are also permitted in all circumstances.

    Representative Al Cutrona Stated that the bill is mostly to prohibit texting and driving.

    First offense is a fine of up to $150 and two points on your license. Second offense within two years is a fine of up to $250 and three points on your license. Third offense within two years is a fine of up to $500, four points on your license and a 90-day driver's license suspension.

    Ohio this spring will begin a new phase in its autonomous vehicle exploration. California-based Peloton Technology will roll out an evolving vehicle tech known as 'platooning' on the Ohio Turnpike.

    Platooning involves creating pairs of semi-autonomous commercial trucks. Vehicle-to-vehicle communication allows the vehicles to travel close together. The trucks communicate on braking and speed. The turnpike is reportedly ideal because it is "relatively straight and relatively flat". And the turnpike already has been used as an autonomous vehicle testing ground.

    On February 1, Myself and 5 members from Region Zero, attended a public meeting of the Ohio Turnpike Commission, where I made a presentation in an attempt to lower Ohio Turnpike Tolls for motorcycles. I believe the presentation went well and after the meeting several of the commissioners stayed and showed interest in our effort. Of course we are all seasoned enough lobbyists to know that officials talk nice to your face and do what they want behind your back. But I will follow up after they make their decision.

    Lion Man

Legislative Director's Report
January 2023

Welcome to January.

    Yeah, I know, I hate it too. Some people are just cold weather and snow enthusiasts, and this is a time of the year that they look forward to. I am not one of those people. For some people, especially up here in Northeast Ohio, it is a time of year that many people put a plow on their truck and make extra money for themselves and their family. Again, I am not one of those people. So, you people have your fun and make your money, and the rest of us will suffer until we can pull the bikes back out and get on down the road.

    My name is Lion Man, and I was elected to be your new ABATE of Ohio State Government Relations Officer. I want to start off by saying thank you to Kolman Fuzy for all his years of hard work in keeping this organization moving forward. I hope I can build on his work to keep Ohio legislatively productive and support Motorcyclists, our freedoms and all our rights.

    I have been a member of ABATE of Ohio for 32 years and did legislation here in Region Zero for most of those years. I have held just about every position in Region Zero at one time or another through those years. I have had great support from Officers and the members, and I hope to continue to benefit from those same people, and now, from all the people in Ohio.

    I know I am going to need lots of help from Chairman of the Board, Mike Stock, and from Executive Director Ed Sheeter. But I am also going to need help from all Regional Government Relations Officers. To this end, I will be reaching out to all of you soon. Mostly, I am going to need help from all of you, the members and supporters of ABATE of Ohio Inc.! After all, the officers can only do so much. Our true strength comes from the members. I will try and keep you all updated legislatively, and then it is up to all of you to act on the information. Together we can continue to make ABATE of Ohio Inc. productive and great!

    Feel free to provide me with any ideas or issues you believe we should focus on this year legislatively? I have a couple ideas I want to start building on, but I want to remain responsive to all of you, so again, feel free to contact me.

    Until next month, stay warm and get those motorcycles ready for the rides we have coming up this year.

    Lion Man

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