The beginning of the new legislative session is upon us! Our elected officials are headed back to Olympia, and it's time for us to remind them about our issues. Black Thursday, motorcycling's first big day in Olympia, is scheduled for January 22, 2009. This is a great opportunity for us to show our representatives in the State Capitol that motorcyclists WILL stand up and be counted, that we WILL be heard in the halls of government, that we WILL be part of the solution.
How do you get involved? First, you need to know who represents you: two members of the House, one of the Senate. If you don't know who these people are, you can go to http://apps.leg.wa.gov/DistrictFinder/Default.aspx, enter your address, and the website will tell you who they are. The next step: you need to call each of them, identify yourself as a constituent and a motorcyclist, and ask for an appointment. A few fine points:
When should you call? Well, tomorrow would be good. Tomorrow is only a few days away from Black Thursday. The legislators may not be in the office yet, but their assistants will be. It's important to get on their calendars before they fill up. One important thing to remember: these are very busy people. While they will do their best to keep their appointments with you, sometimes Things Happen. If you are asked to wait or are told your appointment can't be kept, please be gracious. Yes, it sucks. But it's not malicious - it just happens when committee chairs call unexpected meetings, the Governor's office wants to talk to you.... And if you can't make it for some reason, please call and cancel, even if it's just before your appointment. It's all about respect.
I know I'm asking you to do something pretty special and perhaps a bit hard. For most of us (myself included), it involves taking a day off work. But this is one of the most powerful statements you can make in defense of your right to ride. Imagine a world where highways are built such that we can't ride on them (some versions of the Intelligent Transportation System propose this). Imagine a world where your choice of motorcycle is limited to one or two models (there are current and proposed pollution control rules that would make it impossible for manufacturers to offer many models or for you to customize your motorcycles - and don't really impact pollution!). If our elected officials do not see the face of motorcycling - that's you and me - they can't and won't know how to act in our interest. It's important.
If you live in a district with a new legislator (as I do), it is even more important he or she meets you. We need to start out the new kids right. :-) During the campaign, I had a conversation about motorcycling with the candidate who eventually won. He was very interested in our perspective and told me he had never realized the challenges we face - of course not, he doesn't ride! But he's interested in what we have to say now, because he realizes there is a different perspective from atop two wheels. That's how this works, folks: we educate those who legislate, so they are empowered to legislate in our best interests. They don't know if you and I don't tell 'em.
Questions? Please email me and/or Texas Larry at WRRA:
I look forward to seeing you around the sundial! -- Ian King
Ian King is the president of the Washington Road Riders Association. For more information about this legislative organization please visit http://www.roadriders.org